John Fagotti and Matt Mott made sure Wyoming Area’s offense was done after a wild first inning.
Joe Champi and Michael Schwab made sure Pittston Area’s was not.
Faggotti and Mott held the Warriors scoreless over the final six innings, while Champi and Schwab twice put together consecutive RBI hits to lift the Patriots to a 7-3 road victory at Atlas Field Saturday afternoon in the opening round of the District 2 Class AAA baseball tournament.
The Patriots used the win to advance to Tuesday afternoon’s game at top-seeded Valley View, which pounded Western Wayne, 17-2, Thursday in its first-round game. Valley View ended Pittston Area’s season in two of the last four years by a total of three runs.
Fagotti gave up four hits in Wyoming Area’s three-run first inning, but combined with Mott to hold the Warriors scoreless on three hits the rest of the way.
“I calmed down and hit my spots,” Fagotti said. “I did everything my coaches told me to do.”
Fagotti learned that he would get the start Tuesday in a long one-on-one meeting with coach Paul Zaffuto and had an extra day to think about it when the game was postponed by Friday’s rain.
Mott, who may get the start in Tuesday’s quarterfinal, also had plenty of time to prepare, getting loose early after the game got off to an eventful start when the teams combined for six first-inning runs. He entered after the leadoff man reached in the sixth and protected the 7-3 lead.
“I kind of like the pressure,” Mott said of closing out games in relief. “I just tried to keep the ball on the ground.”
Schwab went 3-for-3 with a walk, a run scored and two RBI to lead the Pittston Area offense. Champi was 2-for-3 with a walk, two runs and two RBI.
Champi broke the 3-3 tie with his double off the right-center field fence with two out in the second inning. Schwab followed with an RBI single, the fourth run-scoring hit with two outs by the Patriots in the first two innings.
“We got some big two-out hitting,” Zaffuto said. “Throughout the season, that’s where many opportunities were lost.”
The Patriots appear to have shaken themselves out of a slump that saw them go 1-6 after starting 5-2.
They beat the Warriors for the second time this season with the help of four straight hits off otherwise-effective reliever Joe Gavenonis in the sixth inning.
Josh Razvillas doubled, Tyler McGarry singled, then Champi and Schwab again drove in runs.
The defense did its part as well despite two errors and two other groundballs that were not handled when it would have been possible to get outs.
Third baseman James Emmett charged up the line to make a tough play on the first batter that Mott faced in relief. Shortstop Pat McGinty made up for struggles on some other plays by coming in strong on several groundballs, including one on leadoff hitter Corey Lescavage to start the seventh. Left fielder Schwab followed McGinty’s play with a sliding catch while coming in and toward the gap.
“We got some big-league plays on defense,” Zaffuto said.
Both teams scored three runs in the first.
Three straight one-out walks got the Patriots started in the top of the inning.
Kyle Turonis brought in the first run with a sacrifice fly. Emmett and Kyle O’Fier followed with consecutive two-out RBI singles.
Wyoming Area put together four singles to produce its runs.
Lescavage led off with one and Gavenonis reached on another with one out. Kyle Charney then drove in one run and Jeremy Zezza two with their two-out hits.
McGarry reached three times with a hit and two walks and his spot in the lineup was responsible for scoring three runs.
Gavenonis was the only Wyoming Area player with two hits.