Honesdale was its own worst enemy in Wednesday's Class AAA diamond battle with Crestwood. The Hornets committed several costly errors, allowing five unearned runs to score in just one inning. That development led to a big lead for the homestanding Comets, who cruised to a 13-8 victory.
Almost from the start, Honesdale fans could sense that something was wrong with their team.
The Hornets traveled all the way to Mountaintop Wednesday afternoon for an opening round District Two play-off encounter with Crestwood...a familiar foe.
Over the course of the past five years, these two teams have met three times in the Class AAA tournament. Sadly for Maple City boosters, this is a series the Comets have dominated.
That trend continued Wednesday at the American Legion Post 781 athletic complex. The Comets exploded for 11 runs in the first two innings, then held off a Hornet comeback bid en route to a 13-8 victory.
With this win, Crestwood advances to the district quarterfinals. The Comets (9-7) will now take on the bracket’s #1 seed, Pittston Area (12-3). That contest is slated for a 4:30 p.m. start this afternoon in Pittston.
After a scoreless first frame, Crestwood began making noise against Honesdale starter Scott Shaffer.
The Red &?Black ace missed a big chunk of the regular season due to injury, but recovered in time to earn the starting nod on Wednesday. Despite a pair of relief appearances, Shaffer appeared a bit rusty in the early innings.
Derek Chrismer hammered the very first pitch he saw in the bottom of the first. The Comets’ catcher ripped the ball up the left centerfield alley for a lead-off double.
Shaffer dug down deep and worked his way out of trouble, stranding Chismer at third.
The Red & Black started to make noise in the top of the second. Brad Fasshauer led off by smoking a two-bagger of his own to the fence in left. Honesdale’s third baseman then moved up to third on an infield out, setting the stage for Jorge Gutierrez.
The Hornets’ hard-hitting first sacker battled Comets’ starter Derek Ermish deep into the count, then finally saw a pitch he liked. Gutierrez roped a liner back through the box, but Ermish speared it and nearly doubled Fasshauer off third.
Honesdale’s rally died when Eric Avery flied out to center.
The wheels started coming off for the Hornets in the home half of the second. Crestwood would score five runs...all of them unearned...thanks to three costly fielding miscues.
No one was immune to this seemingly contagious epidemic of errors. Shaffer threw a ball into centerfield while trying to start a double play. Gold Glover Erik Sandercock misplayed a pair of grounders and the Comets took full advantage.
Ermish made the Red &?Black pay, rifling a double off the base of the wall in center. Two runs scored on that bomb, followed by three more as a direct result of Hornet errors.
Bad luck also played a major role in Honesdale’s demise.
Shaffer was called for a balk in the third, forcing Coach Mike Modrovsky to bring his infield in to try and cut off another run at home plate. This strategy backfired as Crestwood second sacker Bobby Katulka blooped an RBI?single into short left center.
At this point, Coach Modrovsky decided to make a pitching change. He removed Shaffer in favor of Gutierrez. Unfortunately for the big group of loyal Hornet fans who made the trek to Mountaintop, the junior southpaw didn’t fare much better.
Jorge surrendered a sacrifice fly, then allowed a bases-clearing double to Chris Sweeney.
By the time the inning came to a merciful end, the Hornets were staring at an 11-0 deficit. The local lads could easily have quit at this juncture, but to their immense credit, they battled back gallantly.
Sean Curran jump-started Honesdale’s offense by beating out an infield single. He eventually came around to score the Hornets’ first run on a Gutierrez base knock.
Fasshauer continued his hot hitting with a single. Brad joined Mike O’Reilly on the bases, who was running for Jorge.
Nick Joyal brought Red & Black fans to their feet by belting a 2-run single to left. Both Fasshauer and O’Reilly scampered home and suddenly the margin had narrowed to 11-3.
Honesdale continued its rally in the fifth, scoring three more runs. Once again, Fasshauer was right in the middle of the mix.
Jake Schilling reached on an infield single, moved up on a Curran base knock and tallied courtesy of Brad’s bloop single. Shaffer delivered Curran on another single, then Fasshauer trotted home on a balk.
Honesdale’s offense had suddenly roared to life after a bit of a lethargic start.
The Hornets sent Ermish to the showers in favor of Mike Hammerstone. The Comet reliever worked just an inning, then yielded the hill to Steve Dotzel, who went the rest of the way.
Curran closed out a terrific day at the plate with a two-run single. His third basehit of the afternoon drove home Gaylets and Joyal, both of whom had reached on a free pass. Sean went 3-for-4, collected a pair of RBIs and tallied twice.
Fasshauer also contributed three hits to the Hornet cause. Eric Avery chipped in with two base knocks.
Shaffer absorbed the pitching loss. Scotty went two innings and allowed eight runs, just three of which were earned.
Score by Innings...
HON (5-10) 0 0 0 3 3 2 0 - 8
CRES (9-7) 0 5 6 0 1 1 x - 13