As a freshman with the nationally ranked Keystone College baseball team, Wyoming Area graduate Jake Granteed was limited to relief pitching appearances.
Granteed was tired by the end of his first start since last year’s American Legion state tournament, but that was not evident from his performance.
With Granteed pitching a complete game and providing two hits, defending champion Greater Pittston opened the Wyoming Valley League season with a 4-2 victory over local rival Plains Tuesday at Pittston Area’s high school field.
“He’s our horse,” Greater Pittston manager Jerry Ranieli said. “He’s going to be a number-one all year.
“He was a little shaky in the beginning, but then he settled down. As soon as he gets his legs and his strength behind him, he’s going to be tough to beat.”
Granteed had much more trouble in the first inning than the last.
After Plains jumped to a 2-0 lead on three hits, including a Joe Champi triple, in the top of the first inning, Granteed did not allow a run the rest of the way. He gave up only three more hits, none in the final 2 2/3 innings, on the way to the win.
“Usually when I start a game, I have to settle in a bit,” Granteed said. “They’re a good hitting team.”
“Toward the last inning, it was getting a little hard to find the plate.”
Granteed, who may try to see if he can gain some additional playing time in the infield next season at Keystone, had also not batted all spring. That was not an obstacle Tuesday. He doubled in his first at-bat for Greater Pittston’s only extra-base hit and wound up as the team’s only player with two hits.
“Hitting’s one of my favorite things to do,” Granteed said.
More than half of the Plains lineup is made up of Pittston Area players who were back on their home field just weeks after their last game there.
One of those players, Champi, was the game’s top hitter with the triple to drive in one run and score another in the first inning. He then had a single in his next at-bat on his way to a 2-for-4 finish.
“Joe Champi should have been MVP of the Wyoming Valley Conference, in my opinion,” said Ranieli, an assistant coach at Pittston Area during the high school season. “He was the best player in the league.
“He hit a ball hard. What are you going to do?”
Another, Michael Schwab, drove in the other run with a single and got the Opening Day start on the mound for Plains. He struck out five in six innings.
“We had a lot of fun playing all the kids we coached in high school the last few months,” said Greater Pittston manager Jerry Ranieli, an assistant coach at Pittston Area. “It was a fun game to play.”
Greater Pittston tied the game with two runs in the third and won it with two more in the bottom of the fifth.
Kyle Charney led off the third with an infield single, reached second on a passed ball and scored on Tyler McGarry’s single. Tyler Dougherty walked with one out, went to third on McGarry’s single and scored on a wild pitch.
Jordan Zezza used his speed to produce the winning run. He beat out bunt single with one out in the fifth, then stole second and third. Dougherty was able to reach on a bunt with the help of Zezza’s threat at third base.
Joe Gavenonis then providing the game-winning hit with a two-out, two-run single to center field.
First baseman Tyler Mitchell helped get Greater Pittston threw the seventh inning with a diving grab on a throw down the line for the first out.