D16 Little League: Plains powers to victory over South Wilkes-Barre

By Jay Monahan - For Times Leader
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WILKES-BARRE — There is an old adage in baseball that you have to have a short-term memory.

Nick Latinski hit a clutch pinch-hit double that helped Plains easily forget a pair of miscues on Thursday in the District 16 Little League major baseball tournament. The fourth-inning blast ignited Plains towards an 8-2 victory over South Wilkes-Barre.

Plains advances to face Pittston City/Duryea in the district championship at 8 p.m. Monday in Duryea. Plains lost their first meeting in the tournament by the mercy rule.

“The bats got going early,” Plains coach Mike Gregor said. “We made some mistakes on the basepaths that ran us out of innings. The guys got past it; these kids finally came together and hit as a group.”

With the score tied at one apiece in the fourth, Latinski came off of the bench to deliver the go-ahead hit that sparked the Plains offense. The diminutive second baseman took a two-strike, two-out pitch to right-center to score Jacob Hunter.

“Nick’s hit gave us the lead, and it really sparked emotion,” Gregor said. “You could feel the energy in the dugout. It got us going.”

The Plains pitching staff of Jack Mihalchik and Gabe Saracino allowed just two hits by South Wilkes-Barre. Mihalchik struck out six over four innings for the win. Saracino yielded just one hit over a scoreless two innings to notch a save.

“He battled today,” Gregor said. “He threw even in that little bit of a rain storm that we got. He was focused with throwing strikes and hitting his spots. He hit his spots today.”

Plains was able to come back from two costly inning-ending double plays in the first and second frames. South Wilkes-Barre pulled off a 4-3-5 double play in the first, but Mihalchik was able to touch home before the third out to take an early 1-0 lead.

An inning later, a one-out fielder’s choice was hit to the shortstop. Plains beat out the initial throw to third base but while the ball was being thrown around the diamond, the runner tried to advance home and was tagged out. Afterward, South Wilkes-Barre threw to second to get another out on the play, ending the threat.

“I just told them to go back to work,” Gregor said. “When you make mistakes, you have to go back. We had to keep grinding. South Wilkes-Barre has a bunch of good hitters, and we had to keep them at bay.”

South Wilkes-Barre evened the score at 1-1 in the bottom of the second inning. James Bottger reached base on a fielder’s choice and scored on an errant throw by the shortstop. Mihalchik struck out a batter to leave a runner stranded in scoring position following a Bradley Fallon two-out double.

Jack Senape led Plains with a 3-for-4 performance with a run scored, a double and two RBI. Saracino and Jordan Wychock each had two runs and two RBI. Keenan Fernandes finished with two RBI.

Both of South Wilkes-Barre’s hits came off of doubles from Fallon and Bobby Macko.

Plains pulled away with three runs in each of the fifth and sixth innings. Senape hit a run-scoring single down the left field line in the fifth. Fernandes drove in a pair with a double to left field in the sixth to take an 8-2 lead.

District 16 Major Baseball semifinals

Plains 8, South Wilkes-Barre 2

Plains`AB`R`H`BI

Senape c`4`1`3`2

Wychock lf`4`2`2`0

Coyne 1b`3`0`1`0

Hendr 1b`1`0`0`1

Mihalchik p`3`0`0`0

Hunter ss`3`1`2`0

Gregor 2b`1`0`0`0

Latinski 2b`1`1`1`1

Mosley 3b`3`1`1`0

Saracino rf-p`0`2`2`0

Chapple rf`0`0`0`0

Fernandes cf`2`1`1`2

Parry cf`1`0`0`0

Totals`26`8`13`6

S. Wilkes-Barre`AB`R`H`BI

Atherton cf`1`0`0`0

Ohrin p`3`0`0`0

Ropietski ss`3`0`0`0

Hagenbaugh 1b-p`2`0`0`0

Bottger c`3`1`0`0

Manfre 3b`3`0`0`0

Fallon lf`2`1`1`0

Middleton lf`1`0`0`0

McDermott rf`0`0`0`0

Macko rf`1`0`1`0

Hightower 2b`2`0`0`0

Totals`21`2`2`0

Plains` `100`133`—`8

S. Wilkes-Barre` `010`010`—`2

2B — Senape, Wychock, Fernandes, Fallon, Macko

Plains`IP`H`R`ER`BB`SO

Mihalchik W`4`1`1`0`3`6

Saracino`2`1`1`1`1`0

S. Wilkes-Barre`IP`H`R`ER`BB`SO

Ohrin L`4`11`4`3`1`1

Hagenbaugh`1`0`0`1`1

Manfre`1`3`3`3`1`0

https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_baseball_graphic1.jpg

By Jay Monahan

For Times Leader