Last updated: April 09. 2013 12:53AM - 3735 Views
By - dlevarse@civitasmedia.com - (570) 991-6396

Dallas #15 Jon Strausser leans over the fence to catch a foul ball. AIMEE DILGER /THE TIMES LEADER 4/8/2013
Dallas #15 Jon Strausser leans over the fence to catch a foul ball. AIMEE DILGER /THE TIMES LEADER 4/8/2013
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WILKES-BARRE — The losses had been close for the most part. Right up to the district tournament in 2012, Dallas had been competitive, nearly knocking off second-seeded Valley View in the opening round.

But at the end of the day, they were still losses. And a 2-12 record in WVC play after an 0-7 start can wear down anyone.

“Boy, talk about wearing a bag over your head in school,” Dallas coach Ken Kashatus said. “These guys were walking around the high school at 0-5, 0-6, 0-7. … Even where I teach at the middle school (it was), ‘You win last night? You win last night?’

“I have a student teacher. ‘You win last night? Well, you guys are going to win tonight.’ It wears on you. It wears on you. But the guys never stopped working.”

That work and that experience has paid off in 2013. After hammering Holy Redeemer 12-2 in six innings on Monday, the Mountaineers (3-0) already have more league wins than all of last year and have jumped out to an early lead in the Division 2 standings.

Dallas entered the season with an experienced pitching staff led by starters Brian Stepniak and Nigel Stearns. Through three games, the bats have kept pace with the arms as the Mounts have outscored opponents 26-7.

Both were on full display on Monday at Hollenback Park.

Stepniak threw a two-hitter against the defending Class 2A district champs and struck out 12 in six innings.

“This is a tough place to pitch,” Royals coach Chris Ritsick said. “But he’s a seasoned veteran. Feels like this is about his sixth year (against us). Great experience. Great presence on the mound.”

Stepniak had beaten the Royals twice previously at Hollenback in his career, which Kashatus said gave both coach and player confidence. And on this day, he got plenty of run support, highlighted by three home runs and 13 total hits.

Greg Petorak and Stepniak launched back-to-back solo shots in the top of the first and Domenic Oliveri added his own in a decisive third inning that saw the Mounts score seven runs. Oliveri opened the frame with a homer and drove in another run in the inning after Dallas batted around.

Petorak, Stearns, Oliveri and Ryan Zapoticky all had two hits apiece. Stearns, Petorak, Stepniak and Oliveri each drove in two runs.

Both hits for the rebuilding Royals (0-2) came from Jeremy Worlinsky, who drove in two runs with a third-inning triple. Dallas nearly got out of that jam without any damage, but the Mountaineers couldn’t hold on to a pop-up in foul territory just before Worlinsky’s hit.

By that point, the lead was 10-2 for a Dallas squad that is gaining confidence. This year’s group has learned much from the challenges of 2012.

“Last year, it was painful,” Kashatus said. “It was painful. I think a lot of guys don’t want to go out like that. They know they’re better players than our record showed last year.”

Dallas 12, Holy Redeemer 2 (6 inn.)


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