HUGHESTOWN – The Northwest Area baseball had been in the situation before.
Heck, the Rangers were in the position of being down big and playing for their playoff lives twice in the last two weeks before coming back and winning.
The District 2 champions found themselves in the same scenario again on Monday at the Pittston Area Primary Center in the first round of the Class 2A PIAA Championships.
Trailing by three runs in the last of the seventh, the Rangers loaded the bases with one out. The players in the dugout were fired up. The fans in attendance were getting rowdy. Another improbable comeback by the six-win Northwest team seemed probable.
“I’ll tell you one thing about these guys, we won’t quit,” Rangers coach Lou DiPasquale said. “We got a good bunch of guys in there, and our coaching staff, we try to keep these guys together. For the most part, we’re gonna battle for 21 outs if that’s how many we get.”
Then Camp Hill’s Josh Goodyear was done playing around. The reliever, who came in two batters prior, got a strikeout and a grounder back to the mound to stop the Rangers third comeback bid this postseason and help the District 3 champs to a 3-0 win.
“I knew they were coming to play,” Camp Hill coach Michael Acey said. “We knew they were scrappy, knew they were hungry. … It (the bases loaded in the seventh inning) makes you swallow hard because anything can happen. It’s baseball, that’s for sure.”
Goodyear, a senior, relieved his brother, Luke, a sophomore, who started the game and held the Rangers to just three hits before the seventh inning. Luke Goodyear, a lefty, got stronger as the game went on with his fastball popping the catcher’s mitt harder in the middle innings. Then he would drop a devastating curveball, which he used multiple times en route to recording seven strikeouts and his third shutout in the postseason.
“We just couldn’t put it together early. We came out here like waterlogged almost,” DiPasquale added. “I think as the game went on we figured out ‘hey, we can play with these guys.’ It was just a little bit too late.”
The Lions’ offense was held in check for the most part by Northwest starter Brandon Hardiman, who was coming off a win over Old Forge in the District 2 title game. He got through the first two innings without any damage and throwing just 29 pitches. But he got in trouble in the third and had to throw 36 pitches in the third alone.
Quinn Buffington (3 for 3), who will be playing baseball next year at Division I East Tennessee State, started the inning with a single and stolen base. He scored on a sacrifice fly for the game’s first run.
The big blow of the frame was a two-run double by Jackson Thompson to give the Lions a 3-0 lead.
David Piestrak took over on the mound for Northwest in the fourth and closed out the game with four scoreless frames.
“It was phenomenal,” DiPasquale said about his team’s postseason run. “It was something to talk about. These two seniors (Hardiman and Adam Bukavich) will remember that for the rest of their lives and it was exciting. I’ve been blessed with some great kids and good assistant coaches and I couldn’t be happier for some of these guys.”
Camp Hill advances in the state tournament and will play Bellwood-Antis in the quarterfinals on Thursday after it defeated South Williamsport, 5-1.
PIAA Class 2A First Round
Camp Hill 3, Northwest 0
Newman 3b` 4`0`1`0
Myers rf` 2`0`0`0
Hardiman p `4`0`0`0
Gregory lf` 3`0`2`0
2B: Thompson. 3B: Buffington
Camp Hill`003`000`0 — 3
Northwest `000`000`0 — 0
L. Goodyear W `6.0+`4`0`0`4`7
J. Goodyear S`1.0`1`0`0`0`2