For a second straight year, Honesdale Little Baseball Association All Stars have earned a berth in the Cal Ripken state tournament.
Under the direction of Coach Jerry Jones, the HLBA's 10U squad rolled to four consecutive wins and the District Five title.
Honesdale opened its championship chase with a Mercy Rule triumph over Waymart. The local lads followed that up with a razor-thin 9-8 decision over Delaware Valley.
The HLBA All Stars then sealed the deal on another trip to states with back-to-back wins over Valley View.
Coach Jones's squad erupted for a 12-0 victory on Sunday, then closed out its undefeated run to the title via an 8-1 win on Tuesday evening.
"I had a feeling after our first game against Waymart that we had a real shot at winning the whole thing," Coach Jones said. "The kids pitched well and played really good defense.
"Once our bats started to come alive, I felt pretty good about our chances."
Honesdale now advances to the Cal Ripken PA State Tournament, which will be held in Douglassville over the weekend of July 12-14.
This same group made the trip last year, but were eliminated early on.
"The kids are excited to get another shot at states," said Coach Jones. "We were there last year, but we didn't know what to expect and we got it handed to us. This time we'll be ready."
On a Roll
Honesdale wasted little time in ratcheting up the offense against Waymart.
The HLBA All Stars scored early and often en route to a four inning Mercy Rule victory.
Cole Bannan and Jimmy Rodda each took a turn on the hill for the winners, while Daniel Becker paced the offense with a key RBI triple.
Page 2 of 4 - This lopsided decision set the stage for a battle with Delaware Valley ... a game that proved to be the most exciting of the tourney.
Bannan once again drew the starting nod for HLBA and pitched four brilliant innings. Cole, who would go on to earn tournament MVP honors, piled up 11 strikeouts before handing the ball off to his bullpen.
Robbie Campen and Rodda each took a turn on the mound as Honesdale rallied for a 9-8 decision in extra innings.
The local lads actually trailed 8-6, but tied the score with two runs in the bottom of the sixth to force an extra frame.
Timmy Jackson ignited the final rally with a lead-off single in the home half of the seventh. Jackson promptly swiped second, but seemed destined to die there as DV retired the next two batters.
That's when Zach Doherty decided to step up and play the hero's role.
Honesdale's slugging first baseman smoked a double to centerfield, chasing home Jackson with the game winning run.
The HLBA All Stars punched their ticket to the District Five championship game with a 12-0 shutout of Valley View.
Rodda took the hill and pitched four scoreless frames on his way to a four inning Mercy Rule win.
Jimmy allowed just one basehit while striking out six enemy batsmen.
Jackson was the hitting star of this one, going 3-for-3 with two singles, a double and three RBIs.
Doherty delivered a pair of RBI knocks. Campen, Becker and Jones added key hits, while Bannan blasted a 2-run triple.
Valley View spiraled down into the losers bracket with this loss, but earned another shot at Honesdale via a victory over DV.
Page 3 of 4 - These two teams met for the final time Tuesday night before a big, boisterous crowd at County Field in Covington Township.
Bannan earned the start in this all-important game and turned in a stellar effort.
Cole dominated en route to a complete game victory. He amassed 12 strikeouts in six innings while allowing just four hits and one run.
Bannan orchestrated his own offense in the bottom of the first. He ripped a single, stole second and third before finally sprinting home on a passed ball.
Rodda then brought the fans to their feet in the home half of the third.
Jimmy crushed the first homerun of his youth baseball career, a towering shot that cleared the wall in left center with room to spare.
Doherty kept things going with a double and eventually tallied courtesy of a Connor Coar triple.
Honesdale padded its lead in the fourth thanks to key base knocks from Jackson, Bannan, Rodda and Doherty.
Sam Jones put the finishing touches on this lopsided win by legging out an inside-the-park homerun in the sixth.
Valley View avoided a shutout by scoring one run in the top of the seventh.
Tyler Mullin reached on an error, then raced home thanks to Joe Lennon's RBI double.
Bannan slammed the door shut on any Cougar comeback dreams by striking out the games' final batter.
"Good defense, hot bats, excellent pitching and catching all played a part in the boys winning all of their games," Coach Jones said.
"We out scored our opponents 45-15 over the course of four games."
Page 4 of 4 - Score by Innings...
VLV (3-2) 0 0 0 0 0 1 - 1
HON (4-0) 1 0 3 3 1 x - 8