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Last updated: July 21. 2013 3:45AM - 3022 Views
By - psokoloski@civitasmedia.com - (570) 991-6392



Berwick's Anthony Melito slides safely past Greater Pittston second baseman Mike Carey during Saturday's American Legion Region 5 playoff game in Hanover Township.
Berwick's Anthony Melito slides safely past Greater Pittston second baseman Mike Carey during Saturday's American Legion Region 5 playoff game in Hanover Township.
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HANOVER TWP. - The talk after the game was about a pitcher who somehow found the right stuff and a call that went the wrong way for Berwick.


But in the end, the bat of Joe Gavenonis spoke the loudest.


Gavenonis drove home his team’s first run and later scored the tiebreaker Saturday, leading Greater Pittston to a 5-3 victory over Berwick in an American Legion Region 5 baseball playoff opener at the Hanover Area baseball field.


“Joe’s been hot, our hottest hitter,” Greater Pittston manager Jerry Ranieli said. “He’s been our rock.”


Gavenonis rocked Berwick pitching for three singles and worked a walk during a perfect day at the plate, while extending his playoff hitting streak to six consecutive games.


That helped Greater Pittston advance in the winner’s bracket of the double-elimination tournament to a 4:30 p.m. game against Jersey Shore at Hanover Area. Berwick will face South Scranton at 1 p.m. in an elimination game at the same site.


“It’s incredibly huge right now,” Gavenonis said of the opening-round victory. “We want to play the least amount of games as we can.”


The 15-year-old, who will enter his junior year at Wyoming Area High School in the fall, caught fire just in time, too.


Three weeks ago, just before the start of the postseason, Greater Pittston lost its top power hitter in Bart Chupka - who suffered a broken foot in a late-season game against Swoyersville.


So Gavenonis stepped up.


Hitting out of the cleanup hole, Gavenonis drilled a long, two-out single to left field in the bottom of the first inning to tie the game at 1-1.


“He stepped into a leadership role with the hitting,”Ranieli said. “For the youngest guy on the team, he’s taken the bull by the horns.”


Gavenonis was leading Greater Pittston charge again in sixth inning.


With the score tied 3-3, Gavenonis led off the frame with his third straight single of the day, moved to second base on Dylan Maloney’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Trent Grove’s sharp single to left field.


“After we lost our power hitter Bart, now I’m one of the big power hitters here,” Gavenonis said. “I’ve got to pick it up.


“They rely on me.”


Early on, Greater Pittston wasn’t certain it could rely on its ace pitcher Maloney.


On a brutal 90-degree day, the hard-throwing righthander felt woozy after running out his inning-ending grounder in the bottom of the third inning.


He had already surrendered Berwick’s first run when Anthony Melito led off the game with a single and scored on T.J. Lashock’s single in the first inning. Then Maloney was touched for two more runs when Dan Curtin scored on a dropped fly ball in the fourth inning and Lashock scored on Kyle Miller’s game-tying sacrifice fly in the fifth.


Greater Pittston appeared fortunate Berwick didn’t score more, as Eric May was called out on his bases-loaded infield grounder to finish the fourth inning- a ruling that left May hopping mad, Berwick coaches arguing vehemently and had Berwick fans in disbelief.


“It did change the game a little bit,” Berwick coach Joe Papada said of the call. “But you never want the umpires to be in that kind of position. That was in the fourth inning. We had five more innings to go. I don’t think we executed very well and Greater Pittston played a great game.”


Especially after Maloney turned into a machine.


He grabbed a Gatorade and a icy towel, begged for one more inning on the mound, and took the game into the ninth inning while combining with reliever Jake Granteed on a five-hitter.


“I congratulated him afterward,” Papada said of Maloney. “He was a battler.”


Maloney retired 12 straight batters from the fifth through eighth innings, finished with seven strikeouts and didn’t allow a hit after Lashock’s leadoff single in the fifth.


“He got light-headed,” Ranieli said. “He fought through it.


“Then he got in a groove.”


Greater Pittston added an insurance run in the sixth inning, when Granteed singled, stole second, continued to third base on a throwing error and raced home on Trent Grove’s ground out.


“I wasn’t nervous today,” Gavenonis said, “because I knew we had Maloney on the mound.”


Berwick`AB`R`H`RBI`2B`3B`HR


Anthony Melito ss`4`1`2`0`0`0`0


Eric May cf`4`0`0`0`0`0`0


T.J. Lashock 3b`3`1`2`1`0`0`0


Joe Favata rf`3`0`0`0`0`0`0


Kyle Miller 1b`3`0`0`1`0`0`0


Dan Curtin c`3`1`0`0`0`0`0


Jake Jones lf`2`0`0`0`0`0`0


Zach Kyttle lf`1`0`0`0`0`0`0


Clay DeNoia p`3`0`1`0`0`0`0


Alex Klinger p`1`0`0`0`0`0`0


Kevin Laubach 2b`4`0`0`0`0`0`0


Totals`31`3`5`2`0`0`0


Greater Pittston`AB`R`H`RBI`2B`3B`HR


Jordan Zezza rf`3`2`2`1`0`0`0


Mike Carey 2b`2`0`0`0`0`0`0


Jake Granteed 3b,p`3`1`1`1`0`0`0


Joe Gavenonis lf,3b`3`1`3`1`0`0`0


Dylan Maloney p`3`0`0`0`0`0`0


Matt Mott lf`0`0`0`0`0`0`0


Trent Grove c`4`0`1`1`0`0`0


Justin Martinelli ss`3`0`0`1`0`0`0


Chuck Bressler 1b`3`0`0`0`0`0`0


Eric Walkowiak cf`3`1`2`0`0`0`0


Totals`27`5`9`5`0`0`0


Berwick`100`110`000 - 3


Greater Pittston`102`001`01x - 5


LOB - Berwick 7, Greater Pittston 5. E - Martinelli, May, Curtin. Sac - Carey 2, Favata, Zezza, Maloney. SF - Granteed, Miller, Martinelli. SB - Melito 2. Walkowiak, Grove, Granteed.


Berwick`IP`H`R`ER`BB`SO


DeNoia, L`6`8`4`2`0`4


Klinger`2`1`1`0`1`3


Greater Pittston`IP`H`R`ER`BB`SO


Maloney`8`5`3`2`4`7


Granteed`1`0`0`0`0`0


WP - Maloney 2.


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