North Pocono rolls to a crucial win over the Renegades
North Pocono had been struggling recently in Wayne County Teener League baseball competition.
In fact, coming into Monday's game against ReMax, the Blue Demons had won just four games and were in serious jeopardy of falling completely out of this year's championship chase.
On this particular night, though, all the pieces were in place and the local lads showed their fans exactly what they are capable of.
North Pocono broke open what had been a hard-fought game in the final two frames.
The Blue Demons erupted for eight late runs, sealing the deal on what became an impressive 14-4 win over the Renegades.
Travis Lane paced the offensive assault. The first baseman and clean-up hitter reached base five times and scored four runs in support of winning pitcher Owen Foytack.
“We've had some kids hurt, some on vacation, some with conflicts because they play on multiple teams in the summer,” Manager Dan Hanna said.
“It's been tough. But, I think things are starting to come together … and it couldn't be happening at a better time.”
With this victory, North Pocono improved its overall record to 4-7. The Blue Demons have two regular season games remaining, one against the Eagles and one versus Valley View.
“I'm hoping this gives us a little bit of momentum,” Coach Hanna said. “It'd be nice to get into the playoffs with a few wins in a row under our belts.”
The 2018 Teener League Tournament gets underway next week.
On the Diamond
North Pocono wasted no time in breaking out the bats on Monday evening.
The Blue Demons scored three runs in the top of the first, chasing ReMax starter Colby Gregory from the game. He was relieved by Ryan Fredo, the second of five pitchers Coach Ed Hart would use in this one.
ReMax hurlers issued five walks in the opening frame, three of which resulted in runs: Alex Pagotto, Tom Thurber and Nick Pagotto all tallied.
Foytack took the hill in the bottom of the first, but North Pocono's starter ran into trouble as well.
Eddie Skies delivered the big blow, lashing a two-out, two-run single to center.
After a scoreless second, North Pocono took the lead for good. Brooks Hanna came through with the key hit, slapping a bases-loaded, two-run single to center.
The Renegades drew to within one at 5-4 in the home half of the frame, but that's as close at they'd get the rest of the way.
Justin Kline gave the Blue Demons a little bit of breathing room by working a bases-loaded walk in the fifth. That set the stage for two big innings which sealed ReMax's fate.
Alex Pagotto led off the top of the sixth with a blistering line drive triple to deep right field. Moments later, he trotted home when Thurber smoked a three-bagger of his own.
Lane was next in the hit parade, crushing an RBI double to left.
North Pocono broke the game wide open with six runs in the seventh.
Nick Pagotto ignited the rally with a two-run single through the left side of a drawn-in ReMax infield.
Lane followed with yet another key hit, this one a two-run single to left center.
Hanna then closed out the scoring by plating two more Blue Demons via a sizzling line drive triple to right.
Foytack earned the mound decision in this one. Owen worked five innings and threw 92 pitches before handing the ball off.
“Owen really battles out there,” Coach Hanna said. “He throws pretty hard, but he also has a very good curveball. As a lefty, he's tough to hit at this level.”
Alex Pagotto worked the final two innings, throwing a total of 34 pitches.
Coach Hanna was very pleased with his team's performance at the plate.
“We finally went out there and hit the ball the way I knew we could,” he said. “We've struggled a little bit offensively of late and it's good to see us break out like this.”
North Pocono is led by a solid nucleus of 15-year-olds: Travis Lane, Tommy Hannon, Brooks Hanna, Owen Foytack and Justin Kline.
“Travis is the leader of this team,” Coach Hanna said. “He's a very good player and a good kid to have around.”
In addition to these 15s, the Blue Demons rely heavily on Alex and Nick Pagotto. The former pitches and plays shortstop, while the latter catches. On Monday, they combined to score five runs against the Renegades.
“Those two kids are a huge part of this team,” said Coach Hanna. “Alex and Nick are very good players and they did a very nice job out there tonight.”