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Last updated: July 19. 2014 10:11PM - 1244 Views
By - psokoloski@civitasmedia.com



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MANSFIELD — It took more guts than great speed.


But when Jeremy Sabecky came charging toward the plate from third base just as the opposing pitcher went into his windup, it made more than Hughesville’s stomach turn.


It turned around the whole game.


Swoyersville’s super-fast Sabecky stole home for the first time in his life Saturday, Chris Nixon pitched the first nine-inning complete game of his life and the unbeaten Wyoming Valley kingpin hammered Hughesville, 8-2 in a Pennsylvania American Legion Region 5 playoff opener at Mansfield University’s Shaute Field.


“My first time,” Sabecky said, smiling over his timely swipe, which gave Swoyersville a 4-1 lead in the seventh inning and sent the team into today’s noon winners bracket game against Dickson City at Shaute Field. “We had trouble scoring the first few innings. In a nine-inning game, we picked it up.”


Swoyersville certainly got a lift from Sabecky, a speedy leadoff man who also made a fine running catch in center field and went hitless on the day, but drew three walks.


One of them came at the start of the seventh - an inning after Swoyersville took a two-run lead but left two runners in scoring position in what was threatening to become a frustrating opener for the Wyoming Valley power.


Sabecky proceeded to steal second base, and moved to third base on a ground out. After the next Swoyersville hitter was retired on an infield popup for the inning’s second out, Sabecky made his mad dash for the plate with cleanup hitter Mike Leonard at the plate.


It was a risk Swoyersville felt it had to take.


“It was more because Jeremy has good speed,” Swoyersville manager Sean Toole said. “The guy (Hughesville pitcher Tyler Mitcheltree) was a little slow to the plate. At that point, it’s a two-run ballgame. We’d just hit a popup with one out. I felt like we had a chance to shake some things up.”


It worked.


A shaken Hughesville team made an error, uncorked two wild pitches and surrendered two more passed balls during the final few innings following Sabecky’s steal of home as Swoyersville cracked open a pretty tight game.


All because Leonard refrained from taking a crack at a pitch when Sabecky was making a rare steal of home.


“I was talking to Sean about it, he let Mike know,” said Sabecky, who thanked Leonard for not swinging on the play. “We executed.”


Whatever works, said Leonard, who insisted he wasn’t bothered by losing an RBI opportunity with Sabecky’s steal.


“Doesn’t matter who’s at the plate, we’ve just got to get that run across,” said Leonard, who followed with a deep drive off the glove of the left fielder which was ruled a third-base error. “You’ve got to play small ball, make them make the plays. We knew we had to get into their heads.


“After that, the momentum was all ours.”


To emphasize his point, Swoyersville scored four times in the top of the ninth inning to put the game away. Ninth-place hitter Justin Montalvo started the rally when he beat out an infield single, raced all the way from first to third base on a passed ball and scored on a wild pitch.


Later in the inning, Ryan Hogan added a run-scoring single, came home himself on a wild pitch and Leonard scored the team’s final run on a groundout for an 8-1 Swoyersville lead.


After surrendering five hits through the first four innings, Nixon allowed just one more hit the rest of the way - a leadoff triple to Jason Streup in the ninth that turned into Hughesville’s final run when Knevim Gordner delivered a sacrifice fly.


“It feels really good,” Nixon said, admitting he was intent on finishing what he started this time. “I tried to (complete a nine-inning game) before and it didn’t work out. You always say that, I just didn’t think it was realistic.”


He wrapped up his gem with a tidy 103-pitch performance, which included just two walks and four strikeouts.


Nixon didn’t start especially sturdy, surrendering a leadoff double to Mitcheltree that produced the game’s first run on a groundout and then allowing two Hughesville baserunners in each of the following three innings. But he set down 14 of the 17 batters he faced from the fourth through eighth innings.


“Chris is a bulldog,” Toole said. “I don’t think any coach will tell you they ever plan on throwing a guy nine innings. But his pitch count was down, he had a lot of quick innings. That’s definitely a good thing for us.”


Things started looking brighter for Swoyersville - which skipped the Wyoming Valley league playoffs and didn’t play for nearly two weeks because the team’s unbeaten regular season gave it an automatic trip to regionals - as the game wore on.


Chris Lapole singled home Evan McCue with the tying run in the third inning. And Jeremy Worlinsky’s long double to left field in the sixth brought home Ryan Hogan, and set up Matt Laboshesky’s looping RBI single over second base for a 3-1 Swoyersville advantage.


An inning later, Sabecky reached for the sky and put Swoyersville over the top.


“That’s our game, though,” Toole said. “We constantly push through the game hard. Whether it’s a popout or a base hit, it’s our game to not take any plays off. When you do that, usually good things happen.”


SWOYERSVILLE`AB`R`H`RBI`2B`3B`HR


Jeremy Sabecky cf`2`2`0`0`0`0`0


Chris Lapole ss`4`0`1`1`0`0`0


Ryan Hoban c`5`2`2`1`0`0`0


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


Jeremy Worlinsky 3b`4`0`1`1`1`0`0


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


Bill Gregory dh`5`0`0`1`0`0`0


Matt Labashesky rf`5`0`1`1`0`0`0


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


Justin Montalvo lf`3`1`2`0`0`0`0


Totals`34`8`7`5`1`0`0


HUGHESVILLE`AB`R`H`RBI`2B`3B`HR


Tyler Mitcheltree p,3b`4`1`2`0`1`0`0


Dalton Smith 2b`2`0`0`0`0`0`0


Zac Fry rf`4`0`0`1`0`0`0


Brett Reitz c`3`0`0`0`0`0`0


Jason Streup lf,3b`3`1`3`0`0`1`0


Conner Kepner 3b`2`0`0`0`0`0`0


Andrew Keller lf,p`0`0`0`0`0`0`0


Avery Eddy p`0`0`0`0`0`0`0


Logan Bower p`0`0`0`0`0`0`0


Knevim Gordner 1b`3`0`1`1`0`0`0


Ryan McClain ss`4`0`0`0`0`0`0


Sean Poust cf`2`0`0`0`0`0`0


Totals`29`2`6`2`1`1`0


Swoyersville`001`002`104` - 8


Hughesville`100`000`001` - 2


Swoyersville`IP`H`R`ERE`BB`SO


Nixon, W`9`6`2`2`2`4


Hughesville`IP`H`R`ER`BB`SO


Mitcheltree, L`7`6`4`4`5`1


Keller`1`0`0`0`0`0`0


Eddy`0.1`2`4`2`3`0


Bower`0.2`0`0`0`0`0


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