Nanticoke’s Bugonowicz leads team to first title since 2000

Last updated: July 15. 2014 11:14PM - 3985 Views
By Dave Rosengrant drosengrant@civitasmedia.com

Nanticoke catcher Mike Sulcoski (right) handles the throw to the plate in time to tag out Tunkhannock's Ryan Weiss (25) in Tuesday's league championship round.
Nanticoke catcher Mike Sulcoski (right) handles the throw to the plate in time to tag out Tunkhannock's Ryan Weiss (25) in Tuesday's league championship round.
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KINGSTON — It’s been 14 years of waiting for the Nanticoke American Legion baseball team to claim a Wyoming Valley American Legion League tournament title.

Mike Bugonowicz made sure that Post 350 didn’t have to wait any longer.

The recent Hanover Area grad put out a fire entering in relief in the bottom of the fifth inning before clubbing a tournament-clinching three-run homer in the top of the seventh leading Nanticoke to a 5-1 win over Tunkhannock at Spartan Stadium and securing the team’s first spot in the Region 5 Tournament since 2000.

“The Post 350 in Nanticoke, I hope they’re jumping around in the bar down there today,” Nanticoke manager Joe Yudichak said. “We’re proud of these guys. Everybody gave 100 percent all year and they didn’t let me down.”

With the win, Nanticoke joins unbeaten Swoyersville at regionals and will face the Susquehanna Valley champ at 9 a.m. Saturday in Mansfield. Swoyersville plays the West Branch winner at noon on Saturday. Tunkhannock, meanwhile, ends its season with a record of 14-6 and was shutout from claiming its first-ever WVALL tournament title.

Nursing a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth with Tunkhannock already on the board and having runners on second and third with one out, Yudichak pulled his starter Nick Deno in favor of Bugonowicz, who came in and struck out the next two batters to keep Nanticoke in front.

“Knowing my coach had faith in me gave me confidence going in knowing that I could get out of it,” Bugonowicz said about the beginning of his relief outing, which lasted 2 2/3 innings and earned him the save.

After Nanticoke scored two runs in the top of the third on RBI knocks by Bugonowicz and Mike Blazaskie to take a 2-0 lead, Tunkhannock left-hander Ryan Weiss didn’t allow a hit until the seventh inning.

But when he gave up hits in the seventh they, were big. After Christian Pack led off with a single and Mike Sulcoski walked, Weiss got Deno to fly out before Bugonowicz walloped a fastball over the fence in left-center, putting the score out of reach.

“I would’ve been content with a single there,” Bugonowicz said. “One run would’ve been fine, just give us an insurance run, some breathing room.”

The tournament title for Nanticoke feels even better for the team because the majority of the players were part of the Hanover Area High School team that finished undefeated for three straight seasons in Wyoming Valley Conference play before bowing out in the District 2 Class 2A tournament all three years.

Combined with breaking a drought for the Nanticoke post, the win is extra special.

“It’s an honor,” Bugonowicz said. “With Coach Yudichak, he’s pushing all the right buttons right now going into the playoffs and now going into regionals. I’m confident going into regionals with our coaches, our pitchers and our defense.”

Early on, it seemed like Nanticoke was going to waste opportunities as it was generating plenty of offense only to see Weiss get out of trouble each time. Nanticoke left eight runners on base through the first five innings, including leaving the bases loaded in the first. The team also got runners to second and third with no outs in the fourth but didn’t score.

“We left too many guys on base, and nine times out of 10 it’ll come back and haunt you,” Yudichak said. “But pitching, Nick Deno pitched a great game and Bug came in there and bailed us out. When you throw a lot of zeroes us there, you’ll win a lot of games.”

Nanticoke enters the regional event after going unbeaten in the league playoffs and winning six in a row overall. The team’s last loss came on June 29 to Tunkhannock.

Nanticoke 5, Tunkhannock 1


Tyler Myers 2b`3`0`0`0`0`0`0

Christian Pack ss`4`1`2`0`0`0`0

Mike Sulcoski c`3`2`1`0`1`0`0

Nick Deno p`4`0`0`0`0`0`0

Mike Bugonowicz 1b`3`2`2`4`0`0`1

Mike Blazaskie lf`3`0`1`1`1`0`0

Morgan Higgs 3b`4`0`0`0`0`0`0

Zach White rf`2`0`1`0`0`0`0

John Wickiser cf`1`0`0`0`0`0`0



Lance Sherry cf`4`0`2`1`1`0`0

Cody Brown 3b`4`0`0`0`0`0`0

Tyler Weiss 1b`3`0`0`0`0`0`0

Josh McClain ss`3`0`0`0`0`0`0

Race Sick c`3`0`2`0`0`0`0

Brett Soltysiak rf`2`0`0`0`0`0`0

Aaron Holton ph`0`0`0`0`0`0`0

Bobby Gilpin lf`3`0`0`0`0`0`0

Lane Ceccarelli 2b`1`1`0`0`0`0`0

Ryan Weiss p`1`0`0`0`0`0`0





Deno (W)`4.1`4`1`1`3`5

Bugonowicz (S)`2.2`0`0`0`2`4


R. Weiss (L)`7.0`7`5`5`4`4

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