Hazleton Area comes alive, captures District 2 Class 6A baseball crown

By Jay Monahan - For Times Leader
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HUGHESTOWN — It is not an easy thing to miss your chance at the state playoffs in a one-run loss, then come back three days later to play in a district championship game.

Tasked with erasing the cache of Monday’s subregional title game against Williamsport, Hazleton Area rebounded to earn the District 2 Class 6A baseball championship Friday with a 7-3 victory over West Scranton.

It is Hazleton Area’s first district baseball championship since 2014.

“Our mindset was that we can’t undo what was done,” Hazleton Area coach Gino Cara said. “We lost a 4-3 game. We are going to move on and work hard as a team. We are going to come out and win a district gold, since we have the opportunity to do that.”

With a one run lead, Hazleton Area exploded for three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to pull away from the Invaders. James Vozar gave life to the Cougars’ bench with an opposite-field triple down the right field line. A throwing error on a short ball gave Hazleton Area a 5-3 lead. Ryan Pietrzyk crushed an RBI double to left-center to score Alex Amentler. Gabriel Coyler capped the scoring with a run-scoring single up the middle.

The game was on course for a repeat of Monday’s loss when the Cougars left the bases-loaded in the sixth inning. Hazleton Area left nine runners on base and West Scranton hung around by playing small ball.

“We did put runners on base,” Cara said. “The same thing happened the other night. We could not get those runs. We could have opened it quicker. Credit to them: they made some good plays and they kept themselves in the game. We just couldn’t get some timely hits.”

Brady Antolick did not let the 87-degree weather affect him while notching the victory. Antolick allowed just two hits in 5 1/3 innings of work, with three strikeouts and four walks. He stranded runners at third base in three of his five complete innings. Antolick finished the fifth by forcing a groundout to the mound and a strikeout to hold a two-run lead.

“It was a little sluggish, getting here early,” Antolick said. “As we went going, the team really picked up and our fielding saved the day. “

Five of the Cougars’ 10 hits went for extra base hits. Vozar, Amentler, and Pietrzyk each had a triple.

Gavin McGowan finished with a 3-for-3 performance at the plate with a double, run scored and an RBI. Antolick and Devin Reed both had two hits and two runs scored.

“The experience from what they’ve been through in the past two weeks is tremendous,” Cara said. “We are playing a lot of sophomores. We had some good senior leadership to guide them through. There is some talent here.”

Jerome Repetz escaped a jam in the sixth inning and recorded a five-out save.

DISTRICT 2 CLASS 6A BASEBALL CHAMPIONSHIP

Hazleton Area 7, West Scranton 2

West Scranton`AB`R`H`BI

C. Merrifield ss`4`0`0`0

Bruno rf`3`0`1`0

Krysko lf`3`0`0`1

Dougherty dh-2b`3`0`0`0

S. Merrifield p`1`0`0`0

Connor p`0`0`0`0

Worsnick c`0`0`0`0

Butka pr`0`2`0`0

Ivanoff 2b`2`0`1`0

Ciullo 1b`0`0`0`1

Forsette 3b`0`0`0`0

Walsh cf`2`1`1`1

Totals`18`3`4`3

Hazleton Area`AB`R`H`BI

Amentler cf`3`2`2`1

Reed rf`4`2`2`1

Pietrzyk 1b`4`1`1`1

McGowan ss`3`1`3`1

Coyler 3b`4`0`1`1

Heim lf`3`0`0`0

DeGaetano dh`3`0`0`0

Antolick p`0`0`0`0

Repetz p`0`0`0`0

Gentile c`1`0`0`0

Pozniak pr`0`0`0`0

Vozar 2b`1`1`1`0

Totals`26`7`10`5

West Scranton`001`101`0`—`3

Hazleton Area`103`003`x`—`7

2B — Bruno; McGowan, Reed. 3B — Vozar, Amentler, Pietrzyk.

West Scranton`IP`H`R`ER`BB`SO

S. Merrifield (L)`4`6`4`4`2`4

Connor`1.1`2`3`3`0`0

Ivanoff`.2`1`0`0`1`0

Hazleton Area`IP`H`R`ER`BB`SO

Antolick (W)`5.1`2`3`2`4`3

Repetz (S)`1.2`1`0`0`0`1

https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/web1_Baseball-file.jpg

By Jay Monahan

For Times Leader

Reach Times Leader sports at 570-829-7143 or on Twitter @TLSports

Reach Times Leader sports at 570-829-7143 or on Twitter @TLSports