Local travel team rolls to tournament title
The Northeast Pride's 12U travel team got off to a slow start at its final tournament of the 2018 spring season.
The local lads journeyed to Bally this past weekend for the 4th Annual Spring Xplosion invitational.
There, under the direction of veteran coaches Matt Holbert and Mike Modrovsky, the Pride promptly suffered a first round loss to a highly-rated LVBA Prospects squad.
This put the Pride behind the proverbial 8-ball as the tournament format was double elimination and one more loss would end the weekend early.
To their immense credit, the 12Us turned things around in a hurry, reeling off four consecutive wins to capture the tourney title.
The offensive assault was paced by Liam O'Toole and Jake Holbert who combined to bang out an eye-popping 16 hits in 28 at-bats.
Pitching was also a strong point as six different Pride twirlers took turns toeing the rubber over two days.
“I've been working with some of these boys since they were seven or eight,” Coach Holbert said. “And, it's been awesome seeing them grow into great young ball players.
“It's also been awesome to work with such a great group of families willing to make big sacrifices so their boys can enjoy the playing baseball at this level.”
With this tournament championship, the Pride closed out a rain-shortened spring season with a record of 9-7. The team is comprised of players from Honesdale, Wallenpaupack Area and Delaware Valley.
Up & Down
The Pride were ambushed in Saturday's first game by a hard-hitting Lehigh Valley squad, eventually absorbing a 5-1 setback.
From there, the local lads were unbeatable, rolling to four straight wins and the first place trophy.
Coach Holbert's team notched its first win of the tourney Saturday evening, powering past a strong Abington Blaze squad by a score of 8-5.
O'Toole drew the starting nod and pitched well. Liam worked deep into the game before handing the ball off to the Pride pen. Southpaw fireballer Peter Modrovsky worked a perfect sixth to earn the save.
Sunday dawned with the local lads sporting a 1-1 mark and hoping to maintain momentum.
“Our coaching staff kept preaching to play hard from first pitch to last pitch,” said Coach Holbert. “We knew the kids had it in them to compete with anybody. I truly believed it was just a matter of time...”
He was right.
The Pride got things going quickly on Day Two and never let up until they'd won the championship.
Jake Holbert took the mound in this one against third-seeded Baseball U-PA. The tall, crafty right-hander did not disappoint, fashioning a complete a complete game gem and leading his team to a 4-2 victory.
Next up was the medal round semifinals and a re-match with Abington. This one turned into a slugfest as batters from each teams teed off and gave the fans their money's worth.
When the dust finally cleared, the Pride had powered its way at a wild 15-9 decision and earned a trip to the finals.
The biggest surprise of the tournament came in the run-up to the gold medal game as LVBA was upset by MAD Baseball, a team out of Palmyra.
As it turned out, though, the opponent didn't matter much. The Pride had hit its stride and simply would not be denied.
“We kept the hot bats going in the championship game,” Coach Hobert said. “We buckled down on defense and didn't make a single error behind our ace, Peter Modrovsky.”
The result of this potent combination was a 6-3 win and an overall tournament record of 4-1.
Modrovsky paced the rotation, earning a win and a save in five games.
He dazzled defensively as well, throwing a runner out at the plate from deep centerfield, and offensively with six RBIs.
Also turning in stellar mound stints were Keaton Phillips, Ronan McManus, Grant Tonkin, O'Toole and Holbert.
Brady Reynolds and Grant Tonkin split the catching duties, earning high marks from their mentor. The two backstops combined for 30 innings in two days behind the dish.
O'Toole excelled in all facets of the game. When Liam wasn't pitching, he was playing Gold Glove first base. Additionally, he went a team-best 9-for-15 at the plate and collected five RBIs.
Holbert was every bit as impressive at the plate, roping seven hits in 13 at-bats with five RBIs.
Reynolds and Phillips also came through in the clutch, driving in five and four runs, respectively.
“This was very much a team effort,” said Coach Holbert. “These kids proved early on in the season that they had a lot of fight. I'm very proud of them.”