Jake Granteed put Greater Pittston ahead and kept it there Saturday afternoon when the Wyoming Valley American Legion baseball playoffs opened at Spartan Stadium.
Granteed drove in the game’s first three runs then made sure Greater Pittston remained in control by throwing a four-hitter in a 7-3 win over Plains in the opener of the four-team, double-elimination tournament.
Greater Pittston plays Saturday’s Nanticoke-Tunkhannock winner today. Plains will try to extend its season against Saturday’s Nanticoke-Tunkhannock loser. Games will be at 1 and 4 with the order still to be determined as of presstime.
Playing without manager Jerry Ranieli, who was getting married, and three of his assistant coaches, who were in the wedding party, Greater Pittston never trailed.
Greater Pittston scored four runs in the top of the second after Plains starter Dave Mariggi struggled with wildness, walking two batters and hitting one to load the bases. Granteed tripled to clear the bases, then came home when Joe Gavenonis followed with a single.
Granteed finished 4-for-4 with a double, triple, two runs scored and the three RBI.
“The thing that surprised me today is the offense,” said assistant Drew Whyte, who managed the team in Ranieli’s absence. “This team has not been too good offensively lately.
“Putting up seven, is like 77 for us.”
Granteed allowed just two singles through six innings. He worked both sides of the plate effectively while finishing with two walks and four strikeouts.
Plains got a run back in the bottom of the second when Kyle Lupas led off with a single and scored after a walk and two sacrifices.
The score remained 4-1 until each team scored in the sixth inning.
“I told our guys, ‘our top is coming; their top is coming; the sixth inning will determine this game’,” Whyte said. “We put up three. That’s a big inning for us.”
Granteed singled and scored the first run of the inning. Lou Tzomalis singled in two runs and another scored on an error.
Plains took advantage of two infield errors to score in the bottom of the inning. It added one more run when Dave Parsnick tripled to start the seventh and scored.
The game started the playoffs to determine the Wyoming Valley’s second Region 5 qualifier, along with first-place Swoyersville.
Swoyersville finished 16-0, followed by Plains and Tunkhannock at 12-4, Nanticoke 9-7, Greater Pittston 7-9, Back Mountain 4-12, and Wilkes-Barre and Mountain Post at 2-14.
“It’s a new chance,” Granteed said of Greater Pittston, which won the same four-team playoff last season then used it to claim a regional title. “We know we’re the underdogs in this tournament, but we can still compete with any team in this league.”
Plains 4, Wilkes-Barre 0
Plains locked up a second-place finish when four pitchers combined on a one-hitter in Wednesday’s 4-0 shutout of Wilkes-Barre in the regular-season finale.
Joe Champi threw one hitless inning and was 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI.
John Fagotti started and worked three hitless innings, issuing three walks. Winning pitcher Kyle Turonis, Champi and Ceklosky finished up.
Danny Constantino, Mike Wozniak and Dave Ceklosky each had a hit and an RBI. Michael Schwab had a hit and a run.
Greater Pittston 8, Wilkes-Barre 2
Tyler McGarry threw a three-hitter Tuesday when Greater Pittston defeated Wilkes-Barre, 8-2.
Jake Granteed went 3-for-5 with two doubles in the win.
Joe Gavenonis and Lou Tzomalis each had a double and single. Mark Prebish and Tyler Dougherty had two hits each. Kyle Turonis drove in two runs. Jeremy Zezza added a triple and two runs scored.
Swoyersville 3, Plains 1
Bill Gregory pitched a three-hitter Tuesday when Swoyersville completed a second straight unbeaten regular season with a 3-1 victory over visiting Plains.
Because Swoyersville won the league by three or more games, it earned an automatic berth in the regional tournament. It also opened a fourth playoff spot for fifth-place Greater Pittston as the second- through fifth-place teams entered a playoff for the Wyoming Valley’s other regional berth.
Joe Champi had the only RBI for Plains. Kyle Lupas had two hits and Champi one.
Michael Schwab threw a three-hitter and did not allow an earned run in the loss while walking two and striking out three.
Plains 7, Greater Pittston 1
Plains won the final regular-season meeting between the two local rivals, 7-1, Monday.
Joe Champi and Dave Mariggi each drove in two runs and Mike Carey scored twice.
Tunkhannock 7, Greater Pittston 6
Tunkhannock defeated Greater Pittston, 7-6, July 6 by scoring three times in the bottom of the seventh.
Plains 9, Wilkes-Barre 0
Plains shut out Wilkes-Barre, 9-0, in the second of its two games July 6.
Danny Constantino finished up with four hitless innings in relief.
Michael Schwab went 3-for-4 with two doubles and two RBI. Kyle Lupas was 2-for-3 with an RBI.
Swoyersville 6, Plains 1
Swoyersville defeated Plains, 6-1, earlier in the day July 6.
Dave Mariggi had a single and double. Kyle Turonis singled and scored the only run on a Felix Mascelli groundout.
Greater Pittston won four games to finish 21-2 and take first place in Wyoming Valley Youth (Junior) American Legion Youth (Junior) Legion.
The final win came Saturday, 8-2, over second-place Swoyersville.
Lucas Jurchak got the win with relief help from Tyler Jackson.
Cole Keating, Matt Silinskie and C.J. Pisack each had two hits.
Greater Pittston also defeated third-place Plains, 5-2, Friday.
Matt Wright went 5 2/3 strong innings for the win and Jackson got the save.
Brandon Charney led a nine-hit attack with a pair of doubles while Keating and Dylan Spurlin added run-scoring hits.
Kyle Ofier, Chase Nowack and T.J. Wozniak had two hits each for Plains.
Greater Pittston clinched first place by winning games on consecutively days earlier in the week, beating Back Mountain, 2-0, Tuesday and Mountain Post, 5-2, Wednesday.
Jurchak and Wright combined on a two-hitter with 10 strikeouts against Back Mountain. Josh Kopcza had two hits while Wright and Aaron Lee added one each.
Kopcza pitched six innings for the win Wednesday. Anthony Nardell and Jackson had two hits each while Keating doubled as part of an 11-hit attack.
In earlier games, Plains (16-7) defeated Tunkhannock, 13-3, in five innings July 5 and lost to Nanticoke, 4-0, Monday.