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Legion Prep heads to playoffs undefeated

July 16. 2013 6:50PM

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Ron Silinskie thought he was going to have a chance to manage a successful team when Greater Pittston made its first foray into the Prep level of American Legion baseball this summer.

It was tough to predict, however, the level of dominance Greater Pittston has displayed in its first season in the developmental league for players 13-and-under.

“I figured we’d be pretty strong,” Silinskie said. “I’m surprised we’re this strong.

“I didn’t expect to be undefeated.”

The Greater Pittston Prep team is more than undefeated. In addition to never being behind when a game has ended, it has seldom trailed during a game.

A come-from-behind, 3-1 victory over Back Mountain on June 26 represents the closest call the team has faced. It has never been in a one-run game, but did hold on for two other two-run wins in league play and another in a crossover game.

Greater Pittston has locked up first place, the top seed in the upcoming Wyoming Valley League Prep playoffs and an unbeaten regular season.

The team is 12-0 in the WVL while outscoring opponents, 86-15. Including crossover games against Lackawanna County teams, Greater Pittston is 22-0 by a total margin of 183-26.

No team has managed more than three runs against Greater Pittston, which has posted six shutouts.

“Offensively, we’ve been pretty strong, but there have been times when we needed the defense and pitching to come through for us,” Silinskie said.

The team features 13 players from Pittston, West Pittston, Exeter, Wyoming and West Wyoming.

“We have at least seven or eight guys who can pitch,” Silinskie said. “That definitely makes it easier when you’re playing three or four games a week.”

The players have transitioned well into the hectic schedule and their first year playing on 90-foot bases with the rules of higher-level baseball. A few players made the transition to 70-foot bases in travel ball last year, but other than that all previous experience had been on Little League Baseball’s 60-foot bases.

“It’s been a learning experience for them in the beginning with taking leads and pickoffs and stuff like that,” Silinskie said. “As the games have gone on, they’ve gotten better at it.”

Tom Spurlin and Mic Melberger are coaches.

The team has combined Mike Bonita, Anthony Nardelli, Dylan Melberger, Aaron Zezza, Alex Gonzales, Tanner Williams, Marc Anthony Minichello, Matt Wright, P.J. Angeli, Matt Silinskie and Bradley Barletta from the Wyoming Area School District with C.J. Pisack and Dylan Spurlin from the Pittston Area School District.

Greater Pittston is aiming for a state tournament berth, but together needs to handle its WVL competition one more time in the double-elimination, four-team playoff tournament that begins Thursday. Greater Pittston will be home at Shoemaker Field at 5:30 p.m. in the first game. The opponent has not been determined.

The league playoffs continue through Sunday.

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