Trojan seniors provided solid leadership this spring
Re-classification by the PIAA meant North Pocono would not be defending its District II AAA Title from 2016, regardless of how it fared this season.
However, now a 5A team, one of the smallest schools in the new class, the Trojans put up a good fight this spring, ending Lackawanna League play with a 6-6 record.
Same as last year, but with a much younger club.
The Trojans had but just four seniors on the roster this year. Outfielders Pat Noon and Larry Napolitano, shortstop Pat Kravitz, and first baseman Gary Woloszyn. Underclassmen added depth and punch to the North Pocono line-up and accounted for much of the pitching as well. Juniors Nate McClain, Anthony Donato, and Cory Wall, along with sophomores Ryan Deom, Jake Mastillio, and Dan Walsh all made significant contributions while picking up vital experience in the process.
Wall led the team with a .354 batting average and mustered the most hits, 17, two of which were the Trojans’ only home runs of the season.
McClain came in at .295 while Noon swung for .289. Kravitz, Noon, Deom, and McLain each tallied 13 hits over the course of the spring while Walsh led the scoring with ten runs.
Right behind him were Wall with eight and Kravitz with seven. Kravitz and Wall also led the RBI count, each drove home eight, while Walsh smacked in seven.
Mastillo and McLain both posted a half-dozen doubles while Wall legged out five two-baggers. Deom and McLain, each with one, accounted for the North Pocono tally of triples.
Noon and Kravitz each stole seven bases while Walsh and Deom swiped a trio a piece.
Deom’s pitching slipped from a 6-1 record to 2-6 and from a 1.48 ERA to a 3.47. To his credit Deom sent 34 batters down on strikes this year as compared to 21 last season.
Wall, on the other hand, improved his 24Ks in 2016 by four this year and dropped his ERA to a 2.59 versus last season’s 4.07.
He finished his junior season with a 3-1 record and picked up a save as well. Junior Tony Donato only notched 17 strikeouts over 17 innings, but picked up three saves for the Trojans while maintaining a 0.81 ERA.
“In spite of the statistics, I feel Ryan’s pitching greatly improved from last year. Cory, too, came along well,” said Coach Brian Jardine.
“Unfortunately at times we struggled at the plate against some teams with great batters and we ended up taking the loss.”
Practices (or rather the lack of them) plagued North Pocono all season.
By Jardine’s count, the team scratched up seven full-field practices.
When weather wasn’t forcing them to retreat to the batting gym and batting cages, it was playing havoc on the game schedule.
“We never really had the time to work on a lot of things we wanted to correct,” said Jardine.
“Three of those seven full practices came the week before we started playoffs.”
Blizzards and soggy fields aside, NP started off by posting three straight wins. They bested Valley View 2-0; took a 4-3 decision over Honesdale; and shut-out Scranton 7-0.
In their series with Wallenpaupack, the Trojans lost 2-0 to the Buckhorns in Game 1 but then came back to take Game 2 by a score of 2-0.
They suffered a 5-4 loss to Delaware Valley in between and then dropped Game 3 to Paupack 4-2.
Their series with Abington Heights went about the same. After losing the opener to the Comets, 5-3, they took the second match-up 5-4 only to lose 5-4 in the final game.
Mixed in with the Abington series were a 5-1 loss to West Scranton and a 9-1 win over Prep.
North Pocono, seeded seventh in the playoffs, squared off against 2nd seed Crestwood at the American Legion Post 781 field on Saturday, May 20.
Both clubs sent aces to the mound: Colin Macko for the Comets and Deom for the Trojans.
Kravits reached base for NP in the top of the 1st on a 2-out error and was left stranded as Macko retired the side. Deom gave up a lead-off single but good fielding got two out and the sophomore slinger took down the fourth batter.
Mastillo walked with two out in the top of the second and Macko struck out the follow-up batsman. In the bottom of the second, Crestwood’s lead-off batter reached on error.
A pop-up followed for out number one. Noon fielded a fly ball in center and then connected with Woloszyn at first to get the runner attempting to get back to tag-up.
Double play Trojans!
NP went down in order in the top of the third while Crestwood scored in the bottom of the inning to take a 1-0 lead. Wall came home on a one-out single by Deom in the top of the 4th to tie things up, but the Comets stole home in the bottom of the 5th to re-establish the lead, 2-1.
Woloszyn returned the favor by swiping home in the top of the 6th, tying it 2-2, but Crestwood would blast back in the bottom of the inning. The Comets posted two runs, making it 4-2 then moved to defense as the Trojans came up one last time.
Macko sent two down on strikes before maxing out his pitch count and Matt Trimmer came in to close as the Trojans grounded out to end the contest.
“The game was a microcosm of our year,” said Jardine. “When no one was on, we’d get doubles and when we had runners in place we’d strikeout.
“Ryan threw well and Tony was good even though we were already in trouble. That’s the story of our year.”
Jardine cited the seniors for their leadership and dedication this season and is optimistic for the Trojans’ future.
There’s a great deal of talent coming back next spring and there’s more where that’s coming from.
Jardine noted an impressive bunch of junior high players will be stepping up to high school ball next year and some of the upperclassmen might have to fight for positions.
“That alone will hopefully cause everyone to work harder,” said Jardine.
“And, that’s just going to make us a stronger team all around.”