Last updated: May 14. 2013 12:31AM - 1828 Views
By - dlevarse@civitasmedia.com - (570) 991-6396

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HAZLETON — Berwick and coach Brian Pinterich already have a state title to their name. But on Monday, the Bulldogs accomplished something new.

A tense 6-4 road win at Hazleton Area delivered Berwick its first Wyoming Valley Conference title under Pinterich as the Bulldogs closed out their regular season by claiming the Division 1 crown.

“I said when I got hired we wanted to win a Wyoming Valley Conference, a district and a state (title),” Pinterich said. “We just did it in reverse order.”

The Dawgs (11-4) actually finished second in their division back in 2008 when they became the first — and still only — WVC team to win a state championship. They had a few more second-place finishes on top of that, and very nearly took second again this season.

Berwick missed two chances to clinch last week with losses to Wyoming Valley West and Coughlin. And on Monday, they found themselves down 3-2 after a string of errors and walks gave the Cougars (9-6) the lead after two innings.

Senior Joe Favata came through with a pair of RBI doubles, driving in what proved to be the winning run in the fifth and then producing an insurance run in the seventh.

“Big-time players step up in big-time situations,” Pinterich said. “He’s been swinging the bat very well all year. A big hit in the last inning there to give us that insurance run.”

Bulldogs starter Clay DeNoia was on a pitch count in his first appearance after an injury, but Alex Klinger and Kyle Miller combined for a strong relief effort.

Klinger earned the win and Miller pitched the final two frames for the save.

“(DeNoia) struggled a little bit, but this was his first live outing in several weeks,” Pinterich said. “We just want to get the horse ready to go for the playoffs here.”

Had Hazleton Area won, there would have been a three-way tie at the top of Division 1 with Wyoming Valley West, creating a doubleheader for the championship today.

The whole week had a similar vibe to last season, as the Cougars clawed back into contention and won the division title on the final day of the 2012 regular season.

“Last year, we took care of it and this year we didn’t,” Hazleton Area coach Gino Cara said. “But we’re a good, young team. Still a lot of learning to do. Lost to a good team. They deserved to win the conference.”

Dave Klein and Joe Baran each drew a bases-loaded walk in the second and Kyle Klein scored on an error to give the Cougars a 3-2 lead. Tony Craig knocked in Baran in the fifth to pull within 5-4.

The Cougars had won a host of games already this season in the late innings, and this one felt the same for them.

“Right down to the last pitch, we knew we were gonna win it,” Cara said. “But we didn’t today.”

Hazleton Area’s next game will likely be Monday, hosting a Class 4A quarterfinal game. Berwick will be one of the top seeds in the Class 3A bracket and will host a first-round game on Friday.

“This was a little bit of a gut-check time,” Pinterich said. “When we had to answer, I’m real proud of my guys. We answered big time.”


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WVW 10, Pittston Area 3

Billy Gregory pitched seven full innings of one-hit ball in relief for the Spartans, who closed the regular season by winning 10 of their last 12 league games.

Joe Pechulis homered and drove in three runs in his return for Valley West (10-5). Mike Leonard had a double and two RBI while Ricky Stayer also drove in a pair.

Cody Rowan had two RBI for the Patriots (3-11).

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Dallas 11, Wyoming Area 7

Brian Stepniak struck out seven in a complete-game victory while finishing with a double and three RBI at the plate.

Justin Brojakowski (2-4, four RBI) and Greg Petorak (3-3, four runs, triple, RBI) also helped the Mountaineers outslug the Warriors. Both Dallas (8-5) and Wyoming Area (9-5) remain alive for the Division 2 title, needing Tunkhannock to lose one of its final two games.

Wyoming Area’s Bart Chupka was 3-for-4 with an RBI. Jake Granteed had two hits and drove in a pair.

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Coughlin 6, Crestwood 5

The Crusaders withstood a three-run rally by Crestwood in the bottom of the seventh as Josh Featherman got a strikeout to pick up a save and end the game.

Dave Marriggi was 2-for-2 at the plate and struck out five in six innings for the win. Pat Hall drove in two runs while Kyle Lupas went 2-for-3 with an RBI for Coughlin (8-6).

Anthony Caladie starred for the Comets (4-11), going 2-for-2 with three RBI.


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Nanticoke 5, GAR 2

The Trojans (8-4) rallied for four runs in the bottom of the fifth to finish the regular season with a win. Sebastian Maul, Morgan Higgs, Frank Marcinkowski and Joe Olszyk (double) each drove in a run.

Pitchers Higgs and Olszyk combined to hold GAR to four hits.

Dawin Reyes and Zac Faust each had an RBI for the Grenadiers (3-9).


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Nativity 7, MMI Prep 1

Nativity’s Tyler Hunyara threw a no-hitter to beat the Preppers in a non-conference game. Hunyara struck out 11.

Aaron Kollar had three strikeouts on the mound for MMI.

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