Last updated: July 05. 2014 10:57PM - 2103 Views
By Tom Fox For The Times Leader

Nanticoke's Jake Krupinski (18) slides safely for a key run during the seventh inning in front of Plains catcher Josh Rhodes.
Nanticoke's Jake Krupinski (18) slides safely for a key run during the seventh inning in front of Plains catcher Josh Rhodes.
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NANTICOKE — Jake Krupinski paused to think.

One could hardly blame the Nanticoke Area Major all-star catcher. His extra-inning, two-run double provided much-needed insurance against a dangerous Plains hitting lineup. He just finished jogging around his home field with the District 16 Little League championship banner after Saturday’s 8-5 victory over Plains.

That’s why he took a brief moment to sum up his feelings.

“It feels like I got a new baby brother,” he said with a grin.

Chris Ormes drew a bases-loaded walk in the seventh inning to push the winning run across the plate, and Krupinski’s two-run double provided enough insurance for Austin Norton. Entering in relief, Norton pitched two innings of hitless baseball as Nanticoke Area held on for the win.

Nanticoke, undefeated in district play, will host the Section 5 tournament next weekend.

“Right from the first day, I said that I had a feeling about them,” Nanticoke manager Pat Heffron said. “They are just that kind of a group. The chemistry they have is great, and they are always having fun. Everyone is friends, and they have each other’s back. They pick each other up. We are so excited about this victory, but we’ll get back to work tomorrow.”

It’s what you expect in a championship with two evenly-matched teams.

Several lead changes. Clutch hits. Several run-saving catches.

But it was a bases-loaded walk that sealed a victory.

Norton energized the home crowd, tying the score in the fifth on a two-run double to the right-center field gap.

After fighting through a bases-loaded, two-out scenario in the home half of the fifth, Nanticoke had its golden opportunity in the seventh.

With Devland Heffron standing on third, Jayden Heald and Colby Butczynski each drew back-to-back, one-out walks as Ormes stepped to the plate.

Despite falling behind in the count, he was able to fight off several pitches from Plains’ relief pitcher Carl Yastremski to earn the eight-pitch walk, sending Devland Heffron across home for the 6-5 lead.

“I was really nervous, but I just kept telling myself that I was going to hit the ball,” Ormes said. “I just wanted to hit the ball, but he walked me. That was all right because we got the run.”

Krupinski’s two-run double increased the lead to 8-5. And it proved to be enough for Norton, who retired six of the seven batters he faced – including all three in the seventh.

The first four hitters in Nanticoke Area’s order combined for five of the team’s seven hits and had seven of its eight RBI.

“It felt great. When I got to first, I just knew that we were going to win this title,” Krupinski said. “There were nerves, but I felt very confident. Our team always has fun, and just plays really relaxed.”

Plains, like it had done in each game of the double-elimination tournament, was forced to battle from behind.

A three-run homer by Norton gave Nanticoke a 3-0 lead after just one inning of play.

But that’s when the rally began.

Josh Rhodes’ solo shot just beyond the center-field fence cut the deficit to 3-1 in the second, and Kyle Costello’s mammoth three-run bomb to left gave Plains a 4-3 lead after two.

Tanner Smith’s RBI single to center increased the lead to 5-3 after four innings, but Plains’ starting pitcher Costello hit his 85-pitch limit in that frame. He pitched well, striking out eight and allowing just two hits.

“We left a ton of guys stranded and Nanticoke can hit the ball. They are a good team,” said Plains manager Kyle Costello, Sr. as his team left nine on the bases. “We just couldn’t put a full game together.”

Plains had a chance in the fifth, loading the bases with two outs. But Devland Heffron, on in relief of starter Butczynski, managed to force a deep pop-up to center fielder Dylan Szychowski for the final out.

Nanticoke Area 8, Plains 5 (7 inn.)

Nanticoke Area`AB`R`H`BI`2B`3B`HR

Adam Eckhart RF `1`1`0`0`0`0`0

Luke Myers PH `1`1`1`0`0`0`0

Jake Krupinski C `4`1`2`2`1`0`0

D. Szychowski CF `2`2`0`0`0`0`0

Austin Norton LF-P `4`1`2`5`1`0`1

D. Heffron 1B-P `4`0`1`0`0`1`0

Colin Brown 2B `4`0`0`0`0`0`0

Jayden Heald SS `3`1`1`0`0`0`0

Butczynski P-1B-LF `1`1`0`0`0`0`0

J. Piontkowski PH `1`0`0`0`0`0`0

Chris Ormes 3B `1`0`0`1`0`0`0

Jared Balliet PH `1`0`0`0`0`0`0

J. Grudzicki PH `1`0`0`0`0`0`0

Totals `28`8`7`8`2`1`1

Plains `AB`R`H`BI`2B`3B`HR

Kyle Costello P-SS `3`1`2`3`0`0`1

Yastremski 2B-3B-P `3`0`0`0`0`0`0

T. Smith SS-2B-3B `2`0`1`1`0`0`0

J. Gibbon 3B-RF `3`0`0`0`0`0`0

Pat Delbalso PH `1`0`0`0`0`0`0

Jamie Pahler 1B `3`0`0`0`0`0`0

Krisjin Billwin PH `0`0`0`0`0`0`0

Josh Rhodes C `4`1`1`1`0`0`1

Chad Regan LF `1`0`0`0`0`0`0

Ethan Cegelka PH `2`0`0`0`0`0`0

Jaden Davis PH `1`0`1`0`0`0`0

Garret Wardle CF `4`1`1`0`0`0`0

D. Clarke RF-P-2B `1`2`0`0`0`0`0

Totals `28`5`6`5`0`0`2

Nanticoke Area `300 `020 `3 – 8

Plains `040 `100 `0 – 5

Nanticoke Area `IP `H`R`ER`BB`SO

Butczynski `4`5`5`5`5`7

Heffron `1`1`0`0`2`2

Norton (W) `2`0`0`0`1`3

Plains `IP`H`R`ER`BB`SO

Costello `4`2`3`3`5`8

Clarke `1`3`2`2`1`0

Yastremski (L) `2`2`3`3`6`2

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