CLARKS SUMMIT – It was a classic showcase of playoff pitching, and Abington Heights’ junior Dave Manasek was more than ready for the challenge.
“This is probably the best defensive game I’ve seen,” Manasek said. “Our fielders came up big. I tried to put the ball… just over the plate, just get some strikes, and our fielders did a pretty job.”
Manasek dominated West Scranton for six solid innings as the Comets squeezed by the Invaders 2-1 May 17 in the first round of the District 2 Class AAA playoffs.
An array of breaking pitches kept West Scranton’s lineup off balance. Manasek allowed only four hits and two walks in the game. The Invaders best chance to score against the Comets’ starter came in the third inning, where West Scranton had runners on first and third with only one out and the top of the lineup coming to bat. Abington Heights managed to turn on a double play on the next at-bat to end the threat.
“We put pressure on him [Manasek] in situations and he found a way to work out of it,” West Scranton manager George Roskos said.
West Scranton’s own starter Ryan Sherman pitched a gem of his own, keeping the Comets off the scoreboard for four innings. An error with two outs in the fourth inning gave Brad Smertz the opportunity to put Abington Heights ahead. Smertz took advantage by smashing an RBI double. Kyle Tierney scored the run.
Sherman recorded one out in sixth inning before Mason Marsico came to the mound for the Invaders in relief. Sherman allowed only two runs, one unearned, along with five hits and two walks.
Roskos said he was proud of effort his starter gave in the game.
“Sherman was on his game…The defense was excellent also,” Roskos said.
Matt Heckman knocked in an insurance run in the sixth that would end up making the difference in the game. Heckman said the RBI single was “definitely one of the bigger ones [hits]” of his career.
“It felt awesome to get that hit, “Heckman said. “He [Manasek] was pitching so great and we just needed to get him one or two runs across.”
Manasek’s sixth and final inning was his best of the day. The Comets pitcher struck out the first three batters of the inning, two who struck out looking, and paved the way for Tyler Ksiazek to close the game.
Sherman attempted to stage a comeback for West Scranton. Sherman batted in the first and only run for the Invaders in the seventh inning and managed to get to first base as the tying run, but West Scranton would come no closer to tying the game.
Abington Heights improved to 9-5 on the season. West Scranton ended the season at 5-9.
The seventh-seeded Comets were scheduled to face second-seed North Pocono on the road May 21 in the Class AAA quarterfinals.