Hogan strikes gold for Spartans

First Posted: 5/27/2013

MOOSIC — Ryan Hogan had been taking some swings since the fifth inning. Sooner or later, his number was going to be called.

“I was just pacing there the whole time,” the Wyoming Valley West freshman said. “Just waiting for the spot.

“I’ve been in these situations before where I pinch hit. But nothing like this.”

No, indeed.

Not at PNC Field. Not in the district championship game. Not with two outs in the bottom of the seventh with the score tied.

Not that it mattered.

The rookie came through.

Hogan hammered an 0-1 pitch into the gap in right-center. Matt Labashosky came all the way from first to score. And Wyoming Valley West had another set of gold medals to claim after a dramatic 2-1 win over Scranton on Monday in the District 2 Class 4A title game.

“It’s a credit to the kids,” Valley West coach John Milius said. “They believed in the coaching staff. And they worked their tails off.

“My hats off to those kids. They’re tough kids.”

It was the fifth district title for the Spartans in eight seasons under Milius and the fourth time they advanced to the state tournament in that stretch. Valley West lost to District 4 Williamsport in the 2008 finals and the Millionaires claimed the PIAA berth.

That game was the last time the Spartans played a postseason game at PNC Field. This time Valley West was on the other side of a play at the plate in the final inning.

Now the Spartans are back in the state bracket, where they will open against the District 3 runner-up on Monday at a time and District 2 site to be announced.

But first, some time to celebrate a well-played title game.

Hogan’s clutch hit backed up an excellent performance on the mound by senior Chris Nixon. The right-hander threw a two-hitter and faced just four batters over the minimum for a complete-game gem.

“I can’t say enough about Nixon,” Milius said. “He threw strikes, kept them off balance with his curveball.”

Jeremy Sabecky got it started for the second-seeded Spartans (12-5) in the bottom of the first with a leadoff single lead off for his team. Sabecky’s speed allowed him to go all the way to third when a pickoff attempt rolled into right field.

A grounder by Mike Leonard brought him home for the game’s first run.

For awhile, it looked like it would be enough.

Scranton starter Colin Maldontato got a groundout with two men on to end the first and proceeded to retire 12 straight Spartans. Catcher Colin Harrison snapped it with a surprise bunt single in the fifth.

Both runs against Maldonato were unearned.

His counterpart, Nixon, nearly matched him, setting down nine straight until a leadoff walk in the sixth. Jake McCarthy would then reach on a fielder’s choice and eventually come around to score and tie the game for the fifth-seeded Knights (8-8).

Valley West had beaten Scranton last year and in 2009 to win district titles. The third matchup looked to be headed for extra innings.

McCarthy stole second and scored when Jonathan Palochko, one of just two seniors in the Knights lineup, came through with a single to center with two outs.

“I thought for sure we’d get to see free baseball,” Scranton coach Jamie Higgins said. “It all just happened so fast. In the blink of an eye.”

“Right when they tacked on that run and they tied the game, that’s when I started to get a little nervous,” Hogan said.

It didn’t show.

The first pitch Hogan saw went by for a strike.

“If I swung at the first pitch, I probably would’ve gotten yelled at,” Hogan said with a slight smile.

The second looked to him like a curveball. And he wasted no time sending it bounding out toward the fence between two outfielders.

Labashosky, who had reached on an error in the previous at-bat, was being waved home the entire way.

“He was coming whether the ball was in shallow left or whatver,” Milius said with a laugh. “We were gonna force the action. He was coming.”

The throw from deep right came up well short of the mark, and before long the entire Valley West dugout had formed a massive dogpile on top of home plate.

Other than a brief scare when right fielder Ricky Stayer was shaken up at the bottom of the celebration, the sequence seemed perfect for the Spartans.

“Today,” Milius said, “was our day. St. Milius Day, you know?”


With the win, Valley West prevented a clean sweep by the Lackawanna League on championship Monday.

The northern half of District 2 was guaranteed at least three title winners as Valley West was the lone representative from the Wyoming Valley Conference to reach the finals.

• Old Forge opened the day in Moosic with a 1-0 win over Lackawanna Trail in Class A, avenging a loss to the Lions in last year’s finals. The Blue Devils have now won six of the last seven Class A titles.

• In Class 2A, Lakeland picked up its third shutout in four rounds, blanking Mid Valley 6-0. The Chiefs outscored opponents 35-2 in the tournament.

• Seventh-seeded Abington Heights pulled off the upset of the day in Class 3A, earning a 5-0 shutout of No. 1 Valley View. The Comets were the lower seed in each of their last three wins to claim the title.

Wyoming Valley West 2, Scranton 1

District 2 Class 4A championship


Jake McCarthy cf`3`1`0`0`0`0`0

Cody Miller rf`3`0`0`0`0`0`0

Jonathan Palochko ss`3`0`1`1`0`0`0

Sean Padden lf`2`0`0`0`0`0`0

Seamus Lunney 3b`3`0`0`0`0`0`0

Tyler Davey c`0`0`0`0`0`0`0

Aaron Pregmon dh`3`0`0`0`0`0`0

Colin Maldonato p`3`0`0`0`0`0`0

Zack Fiscus rf`2`0`1`0`0`0`0

Alex Judge 2b`0`0`0`0`0`0`0

Travis Winsor pr`0`0`0`0`0`0`0


Wyoming Valley West`AB`R`H`BI`2B`3B`HR

Jeremy Sabecky cf`3`1`2`0`0`0`0

Ricky Stayer rf`3`0`0`0`0`0`0

Mike Leonard 2b`3`0`0`1`0`0`0

Nick Hogan lf`2`0`0`0`0`0`0

Chris Nixon p`0`0`0`0`0`0`0

Joe Pechulis dh`3`0`2`0`0`0`0

Steve Doroskewicz pr`0`0`0`0`0`0`0

Evan McCue 1b`3`0`0`0`0`0`0

Chris McCue ss`3`0`0`0`0`0`0

Matt Labashosky 3b`3`1`0`0`0`0`0

Colin Harrison c`2`0`1`0`0`0`0

Ryan Hogan ph`1`0`1`1`1`0`0



Wyoming Valley West`100`000`1`—`2


Maldonato (L, 1-1)`6.2`6`2`0`1`5

Valley West`IP`H`R`ER`BB`SO

Nixon (W, 1-0)`7.0`2`1`1`2`3

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