Last updated: May 24. 2014 8:35PM - 3097 Views
By - dlevarse@timesleader.com

Hanover Area catcher Mike Sulcoski, right, tags out Holy Redeemer's Andrew Semanek in the fifth inning, preventing the go-ahead run from scoring. The Hawkeyes would then score four times in the home half to win the semifinal matchup.
Hanover Area catcher Mike Sulcoski, right, tags out Holy Redeemer's Andrew Semanek in the fifth inning, preventing the go-ahead run from scoring. The Hawkeyes would then score four times in the home half to win the semifinal matchup.
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HANOVER TWP. — After, oh, about 23 hours of holding its breath, Hanover Area got to exhale in the fifth inning Saturday. Just a little bit.

The top-seeded Hawkeyes had to endure their District 2 Class 2A semifinal game against Holy Redeemer getting suspended because of heavy rain on Friday right as the Royals loaded the bases. They had to endure another blood pressure-raising moment when Redeemer ultimately tied it up after the game resumed Saturday.

Then Mike Blazaskie stepped to the plate with the bases loaded.

Blazaskie, one of the Hawks’ seven senior starters, hammered a pitch into the gap in right-center for a bases-clearing double in the fifth, cementing a 10-5 win at Hanover Area High School. Now they’ll get to face Lakeland at 4 p.m. Monday at PNC Field, looking for the program’s first district championship since 1993.

What had started as a 4-0 lead on Friday became a 4-2 game with the Royals poised to strike again when play was suspended in the top of the fourth. Given that Hanover Area had lost in the semifinals as the favorite each of the last two years, some familiar doubts could have crept in.

“It was tough overnight going home and trying to go to bed knowing they had the bases loaded,” Hawks coach Mike Zapotoski said. “I just told (the players) that they’ve been playing together since they were 5 — just go out and have fun. Relax. Don’t get too high, don’t get too low, stay even the whole way.

“I think they did that today.”

Redeemer, the No. 13 seed that had knocked off Hanover Area in the semis two years ago, scratched another run out of that bases-loaded situation and eventually tied the game at 5-5 in the fifth on a single by Justin Renfer (3-4, 3 RBI). The Royals nearly took the lead on the play, but Matt Kuhl gunned down the go-ahead run at the plate from shallow center to end the inning.

That fired up the Hawks, who responded with four runs in the home half of the fifth to take control. The key play was the three-run double by Blazaskie with two outs that made it 9-5. It came just a few hours after Blazaskie attended the funeral of his great-grandmother, Margaret Elko, who died Wednesday.

“She was at our senior night two weeks ago watching him play,” Zapotoski said.

All of Hanover Area’s runs in the pivotal frame were unearned because of a pair of fielding miscues by the Royals.

“Just too many mistakes between the two days,” Redeemer coach Chris Ritsick said. “Walks and errors. Hard to overcome. For the mistakes that we had, to be at 5-5, we thought we were in a good spot. But eventually it did catch up with us.”

For the second straight playoff game, John Wickiser picked up the win in relief for Hanover Area, taking the mound just before play was suspended on Friday. He settled in and struck out six in 3.2 innings of work, shaking off three singles in the final two innings to put the game away.

All nine starters recorded a hit for the Hawkeyes, led by two apiece from Christian Pack and Mike Bugonowicz. Wickiser and Bugonowicz each had two RBI.

“I’m happy for the kids. The kids deserve this,” Zapotoski said. “They work hard all year long. For them to get (to the finals), I’m really happy.”


Hanover Area 10, Holy Redeemer 5

District 2 Class 2A semifinals

Holy Redeemer`AB`R`H`BI`2B`3B`HR

J. Worlinsky p-ss`4`0`1`0`0`0`0

J. Hoggarth lf-cf`4`1`1`0`0`0`0

Matt Dacey 1b`4`1`1`0`0`0`0

J. Strickland ss-p-lf`2`1`1`0`0`0`0

Nick Oley 2b`0`0`0`0`0`0`0

A. Semanek dh`4`1`1`0`0`0`0

Eric Kerr cf-p`3`1`0`0`0`0`0

Justin Renfer c`4`0`3`3`0`0`0

Matt Pawlowski rf`2`0`0`0`0`0`0

Vito Malacari ph`1`0`0`0`0`0`0

John Yurkoski 3b`3`0`1`1`0`0`0


Hanover Area`AB`R`H`BI`2B`3B`HR

Christian Pack ss`5`2`2`0`0`0`0

John Wickiser cf-p`4`2`1`2`1`0`0

Mike Sulcoski c`3`2`1`0`1`0`0

Mike Blazaskie lf`2`1`1`3`1`0`0

Nick Deno 1b-2b`3`0`1`0`0`0`0

M. Bugonowicz p-1b`4`0`2`2`0`0`0

Jack Windt 3b`4`1`1`0`0`0`0

Matt Kuhl rf-cf`2`1`1`1`0`0`0

J. Kwiatkowski 2b`0`0`0`0`0`0`0

John Morgan rf`0`0`0`0`0`0`0

Jake Peters dh`3`1`1`1`0`0`0


Holy Redeemer`000`320`0`—`5

Hanover Area`211`141`x`—`10

Holy Redeemer`IP`H`R`ER`BB`K


Strickland (L, 1-1)`2.1`7`6`1`1`1


Hanover Area`IP`H`R`ER`BB`K


Wickiser (W, 2-0)`3.2`6`2`0`1`6



(District champions advance to states)



Wyoming Valley West 3, Scranton 1

Williamsport 4, Wallenpaupack 1


Delaware Valley 7, Wyoming Valley West 2

Hazleton Area 3, Williamsport 1


Monday, May 26

• No. 2 Hazleton Area (12-4) vs. No. 1 Delaware Valley (11-3) at PNC Field, 10 a.m.



First round

Valley View 17, Western Wayne 2

Coughlin 7, West Scranton 0

North Pocono 11, Honesdale 3

Scranton Prep 9, Crestwood 0

Berwick 9, Lake-Lehman 0

Abington Heights 4, Tunkhannock 0

Pittston Area 7, Wyoming Area 3

Dallas 2, GAR 0


Valley View 3, Pittston Area 2

Scranton Prep 6, Dallas 0

Berwick 3, North Pocono 1

Abington Heights 7, Coughlin 2


Thursday’s result

Berwick 8, Scranton Prep 3

Sunday, May 25

• No. 4 Abington Heights (11-4) at No. 1 Valley View (12-3), 4 p.m.; Game resumes top 5th, Valley View leading 3-1


Monday, May 26

• No. 3 Berwick (14-4) vs. Valley View-Abington winner at PNC Field, 7 p.m.



First round

Dunmore 10, Carbondale 0

Holy Cross 9, Meyers 1

Lakeland 7, Montrose 4

Northwest 5, Elk Lake 1

Holy Redeemer 6, Mid Valley 1

Nanticoke 5, Riverside 2


Hanover Area 2, Northwest 1

Lakeland 3, Mountain View 2

Dunmore 9, Nanticoke 2

Holy Redeemer 5, Holy Cross 4


Lakeland 10, Dunmore 8

Hanover Area 10, Holy Redeemer 5


Monday, May 26

• No. 1 Hanover Area (14-0) vs. No. 10 Lakeland (7-8) at PNC Field, 4 p.m.




MMI Prep 9, Wyoming Seminary 1

Blue Ridge 8, Forest City 2


MMI Prep 4, Old Forge 1

Blue Ridge 6, Lackawanna Trail 2


Monday, May 26

• No. 3 MMI Prep (8-6) vs. No. 5 Blue Ridge (5-9) at PNC Field, 1 p.m.

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