Legion baseball: Pozniak leads Hazleton on mound and at the plate

By Dave Rosengrant - For Times Leader
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HUGHESTOWN – During the high school season Johnathan Pozniak didn’t get regular playing time for Hazleton Area.

Even during the legion season, the recent Cougar grad didn’t see too much time for Stripes & Strikes largely due to a vacation.

But on Friday, Pozniak certainly made his presence known in the first round of the Wyoming Valley American Legion League playoffs. He took a two-hit shutout into the top of the seventh inning, while helping himself with the bat by homering, tripling and driving in three runs as Stripes & Strikes eliminated Wilkes-Barre with a 5-3 win at the Pittston Area Primary Center.

“I felt pretty good. I think the vacation actually gave me a little bit of rest,” Pozniak said. “Made sure I came back and came back strong.”

Third-seeded Stripes and Strikes advances to play second-seeded Mountain Post today at 4 p.m. The other semifinal game of the double-elimination tournament will be held at 1 p.m. today with top seed Swoyersville playing No. 4 seed Greater Pittston, which knocked out Tunkhannock on Friday afternoon with a 4-0 win in the tournament opener.

Pozniak, who popped the catcher’s mitt on several occasions with a hard fastball that had bite, didn’t allow a hit until two outs in the fifth. Working off the fastball, he kept Wilkes-Barre batters off-balance with a devastating slider.

He took a two-hit shutout into the ninth inning and was pulled with two outs after Wilkes-Barre loaded the bases and scored two runs. Jeremy Moser closed out the game before allowing a run-scoring single.

“He did a real nice job coming in today,” Stripes & Strikes manager Keith Segedy said about Pozniak. “He doesn’t get a lot of time on the varsity level, but he comes here and really comes on for us offensively. He just really did a great job today.”

It took some time for Stripes & Strikes to get its offense going as well against Nick Pugh, who was perfect through three innings. Pozniak’s RBI-triple in the fourth capped a three-run frame. His two-run blast was a hanging curveball that was crushed over the left field fence.

“I had confidence going in, but as soon as we put some runs up on the board I felt like it was my game, it was our game to take,” Pozniak said.

In the opener, Greater Pittston’s Tyler Jackson went the distance for the six-hit, complete-game shutout. The 2017 Pittston Area grad didn’t allow a runner to advance past second base until the seventh inning when the first two batters reached base. But he retired the next three batters to end the game.

“I was going to my offspeed more than my fastball just because when I get ahead in the count I use my offspeed,” Jackson said. “You gotta win (a game like this) so you just go out there pitch the best you can and the hits will find you.”

Hunter Ralston had the big hit for GP in the sixth inning with a two-run double extending the lead to 4-0. The first two runs scored in the third inning. That’s when Jackson hit a bouncer in the infield that took a funny hop and was misfielded by the infielder to plate a pair for a 2-0 lead.

Greater Pittston 4, Tunkhannock 0

Tunkhannock`AB`R`H`BI

Faux p `2`0`0`0

Mislevy c`3`0`1`0

Goodwin ss` 3`0`1`0

Huslander 2b`3`0`1`0

Astegher lf`3`0`1`0

Sherwood 1b`3`0`0`0

DeMarco 3b`3`0`1`0

Keeler rf`2`0`0`0

Henning cf`2`0`1`0

Totals`23`0`6`0

Greater Pittston`AB`R`H`BI

Melberger 2b`3`0`0`0

Homza cf `2`0`0`0

Jackson p`3`0`0`0

Dillon rf`0`0`0`0

McAndrew dh` 3`1`1`0

Wright lf`3`1`0`0

Nardell ss`2`0`0`0

Ralston 1b`3`1`1`2

Nossavage c`3`0`1`0

Angelella 2b`2`1`1`0

Totals`24`4`4`2

2B: Ralston

Tunkhannock`000`000`0` —`0

Greater Pittston`002`002`x`—`4

Tunkhannock`IP`H`R`ER`BB`SO

Faux (L) `6.0`4`4`1`0`4

Greater Pittston `IP`H`R`ER`BB`SO

Jackson (W) `7.0`6`0`0`1`5

Stripes & Strikes 5, Wilkes-Barre 3

Wilkes-Barre`AB`R`H`BI

JNargoski c`4`0`2`0

Pugh p`1`1`0`1

Farrell 2b` 3`0`1`1

Gilgallon 1b`3`0`0`0

DNargoski ss`3`0`0`0

Sliker lf`2`0`0`0

Vicioso rf`2`0`0`0

Richards ph`1`0`0`0

Bynon cf`3`1`2`0

Polonco 3b`3`1`1`0

Totals`27`3`6`2

Stripes & Strikes`AB`R`H`BI

Yanuzzi dh`3`1`1`0

Lombardo c `0`0`0`0

Reed rf`2`0`0`0

Pietrzyk 1b`3`1`1`1

Heim cf`3`1`1`0

Colyer 3b`3`1`0`1

Pozniak p`3`1`2`3

Wilson 2b`3`0`1`0

Lirano ss`3`0`1`0

Keselicka lf`3`0`1`0

Totals`26`5`7`5

2B: Heim. 3B: Pozniak. HR: Pozniak

Wilkes-Barre`000`000`3` —`3

Stripes & Strikes`000`302`x`—`5

Willes-Barre`IP`H`R`ER`BB`SO

Pugh (L) `6.0`8`5`5`0`5

Stripes & Strikes `IP`H`R`ER`BB`SO

Pozniak (W) `6.2`5`3`3`2`5

Moser (S)` 0.1`1`0`0`0`0

https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_Baseball_-crop-1-1.jpg

By Dave Rosengrant

For Times Leader