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New year brings return to an old format

April 05. 2013 12:12AM

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2013 WVC schedule

Tuesday, April 2

Berwick 13, Wyoming Valley West 1

Dallas 5, Tunkhannock 2

Lake-Lehman 8, Holy Redeemer 5

Wednesday, April 3

Hazleton Area at Coughlin

MMI Prep at Meyers

GAR at Northwest

Hanover Area at Nanticoke

Thursday, April 4

Pittston Area at Coughlin

Tunkhannock at Wyoming Area

Berwick at Crestwood

Lake-Lehman at Dallas

Wyoming Valley West at Hazleton Area

Friday, April 5

Meyers at Hanover Area

Northwest at Wyoming Seminary

Nanticoke at GAR

Saturday, April 6

Crestwood at Pittston Area

Monday, April 8

Coughlin at Berwick

Wyoming Valley West at Crestwood

Wyoming Area at Lake-Lehman

Dallas at Holy Redeemer

Hazleton Area at Pittston Area

Tuesday, April 9

Hanover Area at Wyoming Seminary

MMI Prep at Northwest

Meyers at Nanticoke

Wednesday, April 10

Wyoming Valley West at Coughlin

Holy Redeemer at Wyoming Area

Tunkhannock at Lake-Lehman

Crestwood at Hazleton Area

Berwick at Pittston Area

Thursday, April 11

Northwest at Hanover Area

Nanticoke at MMI Prep

Wyoming Seminary at GAR

Friday, April 12

Wyoming Area at Dallas

Holy Redeemer at Tunkhannock

Crestwood at Coughlin

Pittston Area at Wyoming Valley West

Hazleton Area at Berwick

Monday, April 15

Meyers at Wyoming Seminary

MMI Prep at GAR

Nanticoke at Northwest

Tuesday, April 16

Coughlin at Holy Redeemer

Lake-Lehman at Berwick

Wyoming Area at Pittston Area

Dallas at Hazleton Area

Tunkhannock at Crestwood

Wednesday, April 17

Wyoming Seminary at MMI Prep

Northwest at Meyers

GAR at Hanover Area

Thursday, April 18

Dallas at Wyoming Valley West

Lake-Lehman at Coughlin

Hazleton Area at Holy Redeemer

Crestwood at Wyoming Area

Berwick at Tunkhannock

Monday, April 22

Coughlin at Wyoming Area

Wyoming Valley West at Lake-Lehman

Crestwood at Holy Redeemer

Berwick at Dallas

Tunkhannock at Pittston Area

Tuesday, April 23

GAR at Meyers

Hanover Area at MMI Prep

Wyoming Seminary at Nanticoke

Wednesday, April 24

Dallas at Crestwood

Pittston Area at Lake-Lehman

Wyoming Valley West at Tunkhannock

Holy Redeemer at Berwick

Hazleton Area at Wyoming Area

Thursday, April 25

Northwest at MMI Prep

Wyoming Seminary at Hanover Area

Nanticoke at Meyers

Monday, April 29

Wyoming Area at Wyoming Valley West

Tunkhannock at Hazleton Area

Crestwood at Lake-Lehman

Dallas at Coughlin

Holy Redeemer at Pittston Area

Tuesday, April 30

Northwest at GAR

Nanticoke at Hanover Area

Meyers at MMI Prep

Wednesday, May 1

Tunkhannock at Coughlin

Pittston Area at Dallas

Holy Redeemer at Wyoming Valley West

Lake-Lehman at Hazleton Area

Wyoming Area at Berwick

Thursday, May 2

MMI Prep at Nanticoke

Hanover Area at Northwest

GAR at Wyoming Seminary

Friday, May 3

Hazleton Area at Crestwood

Coughlin at Wyoming Valley West

Lake-Lehman at Tunkhannock

Wyoming Area at Holy Redeemer

Pittston Area at Berwick

Monday, May 6

Northwest at Nanticoke

Wyoming Seminary at Meyers

GAR at MMI Prep

Tuesday, May 7

Wyoming Valley West at Berwick

Holy Redeemer at Lake-Lehman

Coughlin at Hazleton Area

Tunkhannock at Dallas

Pittston Area at Crestwood

Wednesday, May 8

Meyers at GAR

Nanticoke at Wyoming Seminary

MMI Prep at Hanover Area

Thursday, May 9

Pittston Area at Hazleton Area

Crestwood at Wyoming Valley West

Berwick at Coughlin

Holy Redeemer at Dallas

Lake-Lehman at Wyoming Area

Friday, May 10

Hanover Area at GAR

Meyers at Northwest

MMI Prep at Wyoming Seminary

Monday, May 13

Tunkhannock at Holy Redeemer

Wyoming Valley West at Pittston Area

Berwick at Hazleton Area

Coughlin at Crestwood

Dallas at Wyoming Area

Tuesday, May 14

Wyoming Seminary at Northwest

GAR at Nanticoke

Hanover Area at Meyers

Wednesday, May 15

Dallas at Lake-Lehman

Wyoming Area at Tunkhannock

Pittston Area at Coughlin

Crestwood at Berwick

Hazleton Area at Wyoming Valley West

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Wyoming Valley Conference baseball opened Tuesday with a return to three separate divisions.

Sort of.

After five seasons of Division 1 being split geographically by the Susquehanna River, the league is going back to a three-division alignment based on competition.

But for most of the WVC’s 18 teams, it won’t mean a radically different schedule.

Division 1 (six teams) and Division 2 (five teams) will play crossover games. Division 3 (seven team) will play its entire league schedule against itself. That is the same format used under the old Division 1 East/West and Division 2 structure.

The two teams most affected are Lake-Lehman and Nanticoke. The Black Knights move up into Division 2 while the Trojans take their spot in what is now Division 3.

Berwick and Wyoming Valley West join Coughlin, Crestwood, Hazleton Area and Pittston Area in the new Division 1.

Lehman and Holy Redeemer join Dallas, Tunkhannock and Wyoming Area in Division 2.

Nanticoke will play with GAR, Hanover Area, Meyers, MMI Prep, Northwest and Wyoming Seminary in Division 3.

Already the weather has interrupted the opening salvo of games, with bitterly cold winds and some frozen fields the culprit.

Berwick has already made a strong statement, opening the WVC campaign with a 13-1 win at Wyoming Valley West on Tuesday.

“There are definitely some high expectations,” Berwick coach Brian Pinterich said after the victory. “This was a good start.”

Returning hitters

(2012 regular season stats)

Division 1: Mike Leonard, WVW (.444), T.J. Lashock, BER (.405), Kyle Lupas, COU (.400), John Kielbasa, PA (.393), Joe Pechulis, WVW (.386), Josh Razvillas, PA (.360)

Division 2: Jeff Carter, LL (.405, old Div. 2), Sean Soltysiak, TUN (.389), Bart Chupka, WA (.354), Jake Granteed, WA (.350), Brian Stepniak, DAL (.341), Pete Borum, LL (.333, old Div. 2)

Division 3: Zach Kollar, HAN (.467), Nick Deno, HAN (.457), Matt Korea, NW (.450), Mickey Ferrence, HAN (.429), Mike Sulcoski, HAN (.421), Shaun Boyle, NAN (.400, old Div. 1)

Returning pitchers

(2012 regular season stats)

Division 1: Clay DeNoia, BER (1.42), Dave Marriggi, COU (2.31), Josh Featherman, COU (2.33), Kyle Miller, BER (2.49), Michael Schwab, PA (2.67)

Division 2: Josh McClain, TUN (1.46), Brian Stepniak, DAL (2.57), Jake Granteed, WA (3.20), Pete Borum, LL (1.31, old Div. 2), Scott Bean, LL (30 K, old Div. 2)

Division 3: Mickey Ferrence, HAN (1.20), Aaron Kollar, MMI (3.50), Joe Yamulla, MMI (4.67), Kevin Evans, GAR (30 K)




2012 WVC Record/Finish: 10-4, second place Div. 1 West; Lost in district championship

State classification: 3A

Coach: Brian Pinterich

Home field: North Berwick Field, Heights Road, Berwick

Outlook: There’s a lot to like about this Bulldogs squad, most notably that it returns eight players who appeared in last season’s District 2 Class 3A title game. Berwick lost that game to a powerhouse North Pocono team but picked up plenty of good experience along the way. There are some parallels here to Berwick’s 2007 and 2008 teams. An up-and-coming group of Dawgs was knocked out of districts early in 2007 by Pittston Area, the eventual champ. A year later, a senior-laden team went all the way, becoming the first (and still only) WVC school to win a state baseball championship. That milestone achievement under Pinterich gave a huge boost to the program, and the fruits of it are being seen now. T.J. Lashock, Anthony Melito, Kyle Miller, Will Morales and Eric May all appeared in every game during last season’s run and Jordan Stout missed just one regular season contest. With Miller and Clay DeNoia both back on the mound, Berwick looks like a postseason threat from any seed.


2012 WVC Record/Finish: 8-7, third place Div. 1 East; Lost in district semifinals

State classification: 3A

Coach: Moe Rodzinak

Home field: Hilldale Park, North Main Street, Plains Twp.

Outlook: The Crusaders have to feel good about their returning 1-2 punch on the mound. Josh Featherman and Dave Marriggi combined for 88 strikeouts in 72 innings during the 2012 regular season, with Featherman starting off that campaign in style with a no-hitter. If those two can build on that, Coughlin will continue to be a tough matchup for any WVC squad. At the plate, the Crusaders must replace six lineup regulars, including all-star leading hitter Joe Parsnik, an excellent all-around athlete. Kyle Lupas had a breakout year as a sophomore — hitting .400 while leading the team in RBI — and will look to continue that production as a junior. Coughlin’s pitching is strong enough to give the team some time to develop as the hitting and fielding rounds into form.


2012 WVC Record/Finish: 4-11, sixth place Div. 1 East; Lost in district opener

State classification: 3A

Coach: Mark Modrovsky

Home field: Mountain Post Legion, Church Road, Mountain Top

Outlook: In 2009, the Comets fell just one game short of a district title, falling in the championship game. That was the first of four narrow postseason losses for them, and they are looking to get back over the hump. For this season, Crestwood has a group of 13 seniors to help make it happen. Eight of those 13 — Aaron Piavis, Eric Rinehimer, Justin Rinehimer, Elliot Snyder, Drew Munisteri, Tyler Sadvary, John Chupka and Matt Kaster — appeared in over half of the team’s WVC games last season. Of the returning players. Piavis led the Comets in RBI and Kaster started five games on the mound. Last season’s top pitcher, Shane Casey, must be replaced.

Hazleton Area

2012 WVC Record/Finish: 9-6, first place Div. 1 East; Lost in D2-4 semifinals

State classification: 4A

Coach: Gino Cara

Home field: Antinozzi Field, East 22nd Street, Hazleton

Outlook: Led by a strong senior class, the Cougars were as resilient as anyone last season, somehow coming out of a tangle of teams to win a division title. Replacing both the production and leadership of players such as Carl Cara, Matt Barletta and Tyler Rubasky will be difficult. The same goes for the pitching staff, which must move on after the graduation of top starters Anthony Zaloga and Erik Johnson. The third starter, Anthony Hernandez, is back for a senior season. At the plate, he is joined by fellow veterans Sal Biasi and Kyle Klein, who were regulars in the lineup in 2012.

Pittston Area

2012 WVC Record/Finish: 8-7, second place Div. 1 East; Lost in district quarterfinals

State classification: 3A

Coach: Paul Zaffuto

Home field: Primary Center, Rock Street, Hughestown

Outlook: Every season carries high expectations for the Patriots and 2013 is no exception. Five lineup regulars are back from last year’s squad that fell just short of a division title on the final day of the regular season. And three of those returning starters — Josh Razvillas, Michael Schwab and Patrick McGinty — are still juniors. The other two are seniors in Jordan Houseman and John Kielbasa who just joined the team last year and now have a year of experience under their belts. Pittston Area will miss contributions from departed seniors like Anthony Schwab, Tyler Loftus, Brian Delaney, Evan Hahn and Chuck Bressler. The Patriots started Bressler on the mound in nine of 15 WVC games last season but Michael Schwab is back after posting a 2.67 ERA as the No. 2 starter.

Wyoming Valley West

2012 WVC Record/Finish: 13-1, first place Div. 1 West; Won D2-4 championship; Lost in PIAA quarterfinals

State classification: 4A

Coach: John Milius

Home field: Spartan Stadium, Gates Avenue/Pierce Street, Kingston

Outlook: Valley West is used to success under Milius, earning another district title in 2012 and winning a game in the state tournament. The Spartans are also used to reloading after losing talented seniors, and this season is no different. The bad news is that two excellent pitchers in Tommy Alexander and Matt Zielen have graduated. The good news is that all-stars like Mike Leonard and Joe Pechulis are back. Add in everyday starters Colin Harrison, Nick Hogan and Dan Flaherty from last year’s PIAA quarterfinal squad, and there’s a productive senior core to lead the team. Ricky Stayer and Evan McCue also appeared in all four postseason games for the Spartans last year.



2012 WVC Record/Finish: 2-12, fifth place Div. 1 West; Lost in district opener

State classification: 3A

Home field: Township Field, Church Street, Dallas

Coach: Ken Kashatus

Outlook: Dallas is happy to welcome back Brian Stepniak for his senior season. As a junior, the 6-foot-5 right-hander struck out 52 while walking just nine in 49 innings of the regular season. Both he and last year’s No. 2 starter, Nigel Stearns, return to give Dallas a solid foundation on the mound. The Mountaineers will, however, miss the other end of the battery in Paul Narcum, who graduated after leading Division 1 with a .450 average a year ago. Though his production will be tough to replace, the Mounts do return the middle of their lineup from the end of last season in Stearns, Stepniak, Greg Petorak and Domenic Oliveri.

Holy Redeemer

2012 WVC Record/Finish: 5-10, fifth place Div. 1 East; Won district championship; Lost in PIAA quarterfinals

State classification: 2A

Coach: Chris Ritsick

Home field: Hollenback Park, North Washington Street, Wilkes-Barre

Outlook: The third time was the charm for the Royals, who pulled out a district crown for a talented and deep group of seniors in 2012 after falling short the previous two seasons. Now Redeemer must build on that foundation of success that group set. Plenty of new faces will be in the lineup this season with players such as Christian Choman, Dominick Policare, Pat Condo, Eric Ringsdorf, Joel Peterlin, Will Cavanaugh… the list goes on. Of the players returning from that run to the state quarterfinals, outfielder Michael Kosik was an everyday starter who stepped up in the postseason, going 6-for-13 with three RBI. Jim Strickland, Tommy Cosgrove, Eric Kerr and Jeremy Worlinsky also return after appearing in multiple WVC and postseason contests. Strickland and Kerr are the only two returning players who saw time on the mound during league play in 2012, making a handful of appearances out of the bullpen.


2012 WVC Record/Finish: 8-4, second place Div. 2; Lost in district opener

State classification: 2A

Coach: Brian Gorski

Home field: High school, Old Route 115, Lehman Township

Outlook: It’s technically a new coach and a new division for the Black Knights. But the last time Gorski was leading the prorgam, it was in an old alignment (before the Catholic school merger) that looks similar to this group. That was in 2007, and the Knights capped off the year with a district title and a trip to the state quarters. The 2013 Knights must replace the numbers put up by veterans such as Curt and Cole Barbacci, Tyler McGovern and Troy Shurites. Lehman does, however, have upperclassmen like Jeff Carter, Scott Bean, Pete Borum, Cody Paraschak, Connor Balloun and Josh Davenport to carry on a strong recent tradition. The Knights also got some varsity experience last year for sophomore John Van Scoy, who opens the 2013 season batting leadoff. The move up in competition won’t make things easy, but the program has succeeded in this situation before.


2012 WVC Record/Finish: 7-7, fourth place Div. 1 West; Lost in district quarterfinals

State classification: 3A

Coach: Gary Custer

Home field: High school, West Tioga Street, Tunkhannock

Outlook: After a dominant two seasons that saw them nearly come through with a state championship, the Tigers fell back to the pack in 2012. But the Tigers still have plenty of experience, including seniors like Josh McClain and Jeremy Lee, who both started in that 2011 state championship game. Those two, naturally, open league play as the heart of the Tigers order. Tunkhannock loses four of its top hitters from a year ago in Rich Condeelis, Wes Custer, Zach Saylor and Alex Zaner but will return a handful of players who saw that PIAA run from the dugout and played in the district tournament themselves a year ago. McClain enters the season after posting an impressive 1.46 ERA on the mound in league play as a junior.

Wyoming Area

2012 WVC Record/Finish: 9-5, third place Div. 1 West; Lost in district quarterfinals

State classification: 3A

Coach: Chick Andrewscavage

Home field: Atlas Field, Erie Street, West Pittston

Outlook: Five starters from 2012 are back for their senior season for the Warriors, including leading hitters Bart Chupka and Jake Granteed. Chupka was one of the WVC’s top RBI producers as a junior and he can help anchor a 2013 lineup that returns all but one of its 2-through-7 hitters from the end of last season. That includes Mike Carey, Granteed, Trent Grove and Erik Walkowiak. The only name gone from that stretch of the lineup is a significant one, however, as long-time ace Dylan Maloney has graduated along with another talented arm in Adam Romanowski. Granteed is the lone returning player who made a start on the mound last season.



2012 WVC Record/Finish: 0-14, seventh place Div. 2; Lost in district opener

State classification: 3A

Coach: Vito Pasone

Home field: Coal Street Park, Coal Street, Wilkes-Barre

Outlook: The rebuilding of the Grenadiers program continues in Pasone’s second season at the helm. On one hand, GAR lists just 13 players on the roster. On the other, the team returns the core of sophomores — now juniors — that had Pasone optimistic for the future. That group includes Kevin Evans, Joe O’Day, Rich Sickler and Steven Tyson, who were everyday starters in 2012. Evans and Sickler handled the bulk of the pitching last season as well. Senior Christian Skrepenak is also back for a third straight season in the lineup. GAR does, however, lose last season’s leading hitter in Mykel Demspey.

Hanover Area

2012 WVC Record/Finish: 12-0, first place Div. 2; Lost in district semifinals

State classification: 2A

Coach: Mike Zapotoski

Home field: High school, Sans Souci Parkway, Hanover Twp.

Outlook: The 2012 season wasn’t over five minutes when Zapotoski preached to his players that 2013 could be a special year. And for good reason. The Hawkeyes have nearly every major contributor back from a group that went undefeated in league play before bowing out to eventual district champ Holy Redeemer. In that final game, the Hawkeyes filled out a 1-9 lineup of Zach Kollar, Christian Pack, Mike Sulcoski, Mickey Ferrence, Nick Deno, Mike Blazaskie, Jack Windt, Matt Kuhl and Matt Kocher. All nine are back, as well as other contributors from 2012 such as Mike Bugonowicz and John Wickiser. Ferrence was stellar on the mound last season and topped .400 at the plate along with Kollar, Deno and Sulcoski.


2012 WVC Record/Finish: 7-5, third place Div. 2; Lost in district opener

State classification: 2A

Coach: Matt Skrepenak

Home field: Gibby Field, Gordon Avenue, Wilkes-Barre

Outlook: With Lake-Lehman moving up, the Mohawks will be one of the main teams to challenge Hanover Area in Division 3. Dan Conrad, Matt DeMarco, C.J. Szafran, Cal Lisman and Mike Kendra were all fixtures for Meyers in 2012 and are back for another season. The Mohawks will have to move on without their top two pitchers from last season in Corey Dubil and Tony Morrash as well as John Zionce, Robert Reilly and Chris DeMarco at the plate. With the shuffling of the divisions, the Mohawks are also hoping for a little better luck when the district tournament rolls around. They always seem to draw Holy Redeemer in an early round. When they got to hold off on meeting the Royals the title game, the Mohawks won the district championship in 2010.

MMI Prep

2012 WVC Record/Finish: 4-8, sixth place Div. 2; Lost in district quarterfinals

State classification: A

Coach: Emmett Thomas

Home field: Cedar Street/Luzerne Street, Freeland

Outlook: This will be an interesting year for the Preppers, who return essentially their entire roster from a year ago. That includes, naturally, seniors Aaron Kollar and Casey McCoy, leading hitter Charlie Karchner and top RBI man Sam Harman. Harman and fellow starter Cory Rogers are still sophomores. Kollar and Joe Yamulla were the top pitchers a year ago with Kollar first on the team in innings, wins, strikeouts and ERA. MMI will have a chance to take a notable step forward in the development of the program this season.


2012 WVC Record/Finish: 5-10, fourth place Div. 1 East; Lost in district semifinals

State classification: 3A

Coach: Dean Myers

Home fields: High school, Kosciuszko Street, Nanticoke; Ted Hiller Park, Honey Pot

Outlook: The Trojans owe a lot to a large senior class who did plenty to boost the program last season, pushing an underdog squad all the way to the district semifinals before falling to Berwick. Now Nanticoke looks to build on that perseverance. It won’t be easy, as the top seven regulars in the lineup have all graduated. Some returning contributors back for a senior season include Shaun Boyle, Morgan Higgs, Sebastian Maul and Nick Valenti, who will comprise the meat of the Trojans’ order in 2013. Boyle produced when called upon last season, including driving in two key runs in a postseason upset of Valley View. Higgs saw some time on the mound last season, appearing in five games with one start in the regular season. The move down to Division 3 should help with breaking in a mostly new lineup.


2012 WVC Record/Finish: 6-6, fourth place Div. 2; Lost in district opener

State classification: 2A

Coach: Lou DiPasquale

Home field: High school, Thorne Hill Road, Shickshinny

Outlook: The Rangers took a step forward last season, claiming a season sweep of Meyers and nearly snapping Hanover Area’s unbeaten streak, losing by just a run to the division champs. A challenge for 2013 will be replacing all-star Skyler DiPasquale, who led the team in most major categories at the plate while also starting five league games on the mound. Stepping up in place of the WVC’s leader in batting average and RBI will be a group of veterans that includes Pete Feno, Matt Korea, Devon Mazonkey and Kevin Volkel, all of whom are seniors. DiPasquale and Kyle Stempien handled much of the pitching last year but Mazonkey had 10 strikeouts in two starts to lead Northwest’s returning players.

Wyoming Seminary

2012 WVC Record/Finish: 5-7, fifth place Div. 2; Lost in district semifinals

State classification: A

Coach: Brian Kaschak

Home field: Church Street Park, Kingston

Outlook: With Nesbitt Field in the midst of a significant facelift, the Blue Knights will have to relocate for the 2013 season. Aside from the change of venue, Seminary will also have to replace some valuable middle-of-the-lineup bats in Craig Skudalski and Bobby Polachek. That pair also accounted for all but a handful of innings on the mound from last season. Four players who took the field for last year’s wild semifinal loss to district champ Lackawanna Trail — Zach Wise, Gavin Gagliardi, Asa Saidman and Doug Thomas — return for 2013. Wise and Saidman both chipped in as pitchers last year, mostly out of the bullpen.

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