Fifth-inning fireworks help Argents seal win

Though they have been frequent visitors to the district championship game, the road to this year’s final was not an easy one for the Bishop Hoban baseball team.
And in order for the Argents to make it to the finals for the fifth time in the last six years, they had to knock off one of the hottest teams in the tournament. Thanks to a big fifth inning, Bishop Hoban will have the chance to play for another championship.

The Argents sent 12 batters to the plate in the bottom of the fifth and utilized two-run home runs off the bats of Jack Cavanaugh and Kevin McGrath in an 11-4 victory over Nanticoke Area, Tuesday afternoon at Hollenback Park. With the win, the third-seeded Argents improved to 13-4 and will face top seeded Lackawanna Trail on Thursday at Lackawanna County Stadium for the Class AA district title. Nanticoke Area ends the year at 8-10.

“Nanticoke Area knocked off some great teams to get to this point,” Hoban coach Chris Ritsick said of the Trojans who entered the tournament as the 15th seed and defeated Montrose, Scranton Prep and Carbondale on the way to the semifinals. “That is a young team over there and our game plan was to wear down their pitcher.”

Tuesday’s meeting was the third of the year between the two teams and even though the Argents won the previous two games, there was a bit of unknown, because they had yet to face Nanticoke Area starter Dan Olzinski. And it was a combination of the heat and the Argent batters getting a second look at Olzinski that caused the Trojans some problems.

Nanticoke Area took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Olzinski doubled with two out and came around to score on an error. On the mound, Olzinski struck out four of the first eight hitters he faced before Hoban took a 3-1 lead in the third when Mike Slusark came through with a big two-run double.

“Slusark had a big two out hit,” Ritsick said. “That seemed to get us going. We did not know what to expect from (Olzinski), he threw a hell of a game for the time he was out there. We tried to work the count a little more and I think he started to run out of gas.”

The Trojans took a 4-3 lead in the top of the fifth, getting to Hoban starter Marc McDonough for three runs on three hits. An error, base hit and a walk allowed the Trojans to load the bases with nobody out. However, McDonough got a 5-2-3 double play and it appeared as if he was going to work his way out of the inning. McDonough was called for a balk with runners on second and third to force one run in and Tim Bevan ripped a double to left to tie the game. Jon Kaminski followed with a single to left to score Bevan to give Nanticoke Area its last lead of the game.

“The balls they hit had eyes and the ones we hit didn’t,” Nanticoke Area coach Bob Bertoni said. “Even on the double play with the bases loaded we hit the ball hard. (Olzinski) struggles in the heat and we knew that. He threw a lot of pitches and we were hoping to be able to get four or five innings out of him.”

Olzinski was lifted after the third inning after throwing 71 pitches. Jesse Stine came on and pitched a hitless fourth inning before things fell apart for Nanticoke Area in the fifth.

Kevin McGrath led off with a single and Cavanaugh ripped a 1-2 pitch over the wall in left to put Hoban on top 5-4. Following the home run, the next three Bishop Hoban batters reached base via hits and McGrath got his second hit of the inning, the one a two-run homer that gave the Argents a 11-4 lead.

McDonough picked up the win, tossing a complete-game and allowing seven hits. He walked one and struck out three and allowed just one batter to reach second base in the final two innings.

GNA continues unlikely baseball playoff run

Greater Nanticoke Area tied the score in the seventh and then scored twice in the eighth to keep its unlikely District 2 playoff run going and defeat Carbondale 6-4 Friday in a Class 2A quarterfinal baseball game.

The Trojans, 8-9 and the 15th seed, play at third-seeded and defending district champion Bishop Hoban (12-4) at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Tyler Shipp doubled in Sean Domzalski in the sixth to tie the score at 4 and force and extra inning.

In the eighth, Jon Kaminski walked, moved to second on Dan Olzinski’s sacrifice bunt and then took third on a passed ball. Brian Madajewski then walked and stole second.

Ryan Bevan then squared to bunt on a suicide squeeze, but missed the ball. The ball, though, banged off the catcher’s glove and Kaminski scored.

Ryan Bevan made up for his miss bunt with a single to score Madajewski.

Nanticoke ran into some trouble in the eighth as pitcher Tim Bevan walked the first two batters. Reliever George Jones took the mound and on a 0-1 count catcher Ryan Bevan recorded a passed ball. Ryan Bevan, though, recovered to throw out the base runner attempting to move to third.

Jones then got two grounders to end the game.

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