Cole Cherkas is perfect at the plate on his home field and Pocono-1 had a spotless second day of the Keystone States Games Scholastic baseball tournament Friday.
That combination resulted in Pocono-1 finishing second in round-robin play and landing a spot in the Saturday 8 a.m. final at King’s College against West-1, the only team it has lost to in four games at the tournament.
The spot in the title game was clinched when Pocono-1 completed its day with an 8-2 afternoon victory over Pocono-2 at Hilldale Park.
Earlier, Cherkas, who is entering his junior year at Pittston Area, went 4-for-4 with a homer, triple, four RBI and three runs scored when Pocono-1 defeated Lehigh Valley 9-7 in the morning game at the Pittston Area Secondary Center in Hughestown.
In two games on the Patriots’ home field for high school games, Cherkas went 6-for-6 with a walk and six RBI. He drove in the first two runs of the tournament for Pocono-1 Thursday then the first run of Friday’s win over Lehigh Valley.
“He just hit the daylights out of it,” Pocono-1 manager Sean Foley said.
Cherkas turned his ankle at first base while running out a long foul ball in the game with Pocono-2. He sat out the rest of the game, but Foley said it appears the third baseman/pitcher will ready for Saturday’s championship game.
Pocono-1 entered Friday’s action as one of two teams at 1-1, but it used the two wins to break out of a third-place tie in the six-team field and bypass Blue Mountain.
Blue Mountain lost 10-1 to West-1 and 13-3 to West-2 Friday after starting with the tournament with consecutive wins Thursday.
Pocono-1’s Cody Gilpin pitched five innings for the win against Lehigh Valley.
David Wickiser went 3-for-4 with a double, two runs and an RBI. Kyle Hromisin was 2-for-2.
Dean Ambrose started the game with a triple and scored the first of three runs in the first inning on a hit by Cherkas.
Keifer Hoover turned in a workhorse pitching effort to help keep most of the other Pocono-1 pitchers eligible into Friday.
Hoover pitched the final two innings for the save in the morning, took a drive, switched fields and started the next game on the mound to get a win over Pocono-2.
“He just continued to pitch,” Foley said. “He was already warmed up.
“He pitched well.”
Andrew Martin finished it off by working the last two innings.
Ambrose went 2-for-4 with a double, walk, stolen base and run scored in the second game.
Dallas Greenweig doubled to drive in one run and score the other in the third inning.
West-1 finished 4-0 by outscoring opponents 50-12, including its 16-2 romp in the first meeting with Pocono-1 Thursday.
Blue Mountain and West-2 each finished 2-2 and will play for third place at 8 a.m. at the Pittston Primary Center in Hughestown.
Lehigh Valley (1-3) and winless Pocono-2 will play for first place at Hilldale in another 8 a.m. game.
The Pocono-2 team was made up entirely of players heading into ninth and 10th grades. It would have been eligible for the Keystone Games’ former Junior Division, but no opposition was available so it played up against older opponents.
West-2 defeated Pocono-2 10-2 Friday morning.
Shane Wood from Tunkhannock had a sixth-inning home run to break the shutout against West-2, then tripled in the first inning to drive in the only runs against Pocono-1.