Both Maple City teams roll to Mercy Rule wins in opening round of Teener playoffs
It was a very good night for each of Honesdale’s teams in Round One of the Wayne County Teener League playoffs.
The top-ranked Stars struggled at times during their game against North Pocono at Keith Sutton Memorial Field.
However, when push came to shove, Coach Lee Donat’s lads used their offensive firepower to deal the Blue Demons a 16-6 loss.
“It’s been 10 days since we played our last game, so we weren’t very sharp,” he said. “We got the job done. It wasn’t pretty, but the kids really battled and never quit.”
Meanwhile, just across the road at the old HHS varsity field, the Eagles had their hands full with a scrappy Minooka squad.
The visitors scored six runs in the opening two frames, but that’s when Honesdale’s bats came to life.
Coach Pete Goyette's boys tallied in every inning en route to a 17-7 triumph.
“We’ve been working on them to be aggressive at the plate and tonight they really were,” he said. “Anytime you put the bat on the ball and put pressure on the defense, good things will happen.”
With these wins, both Honesdale teams advance to the tournament semifinals.
The Stars will host the lower seeded team remaining, while the Eagles will get the higher seed.
Weather permitting, these games will both be played Saturday here in the Maple City. First pitch is slated for 6 p.m.
Due to quirks in the 2018 schedule, a team that folded late in the season, the Stars sat idle for nearly two weeks before getting back on the field Thursday.
Zach Branning earned the mound assignment, but struggled early on. He was relieved by Mason Briggs in the second, who then yielded to Danny Becker in the third.
“Danny is one of the hardest throwers in the whole league,” said Coach Donat. “When he's on, Danny is very tough to hit.”
Becker wound up earning the decision in relief. Mark Christina, Zach Doherty and Timmy Jackson also toed the rubber for Honesdale in this one.
Offensively, Jackson led the Stars' onslaught.
The slugging three-hole hitter reached base four times and scored four runs. The highlight of Timmy's night came in the fourth when he smoked a two-run double to the base of the wall in right center.
Moments later, Jackson brought the fans to their feet by stealing home.
Becker contributed several key plays to the cause as well. Danny slapped two hits, worked a walk and tallied three runs.
Jack Cavanaugh, Tommy Gogolski and Doherty each scored twice.
All told, this was a well-balanced attack featuring an intriguing mix of talented youngsters and battle-tested veterans.
“Our 15s give us very good leadership,” Coach Donat said. “But, some of our younger kids really stepped up when we needed it today.
“They came up with big hits, made plays in the field and were very aggressive on the bases. I was happy to see that.”
The Eagles finished second to the Stars in the regular season standings, windingt up with an 11-2 overall record.
They're the second seed in this year's tournament and opened up their gold medal quest with a win over Minooka.
Coach Goyette's lads trailed early when the visitors plated six runs in the first two innings.
However, Honesdale's depth, pitching and power eventually proved too much in what became a 17-7 Mercy Rule victory.
Drew Howell, Robbie Campen, Cole Bannan and Jimmy Rodda paced the Eagles offensive assault.
Howell is the team's shortstop and lead-off man. On Thursday, he reached base safely in each of his four at-bats, scoring three times in the process.
“Drew is just non-stop hustle,” Coach Goyette said. “He's a pleasure to have around. Drew always has a smile on his face and he will do absolutely anything to help the team.”
Campen bats in the two-hole and catches. Against Minooka, Robbie went 2-for-4 with and RBI and two runs scored.
“Robbie sprays the ball around, but he has some power too,” Coach Goyette said. “He's a very good catcher. Robbie handles our pitchers well. They have a lot of confidence throwing to him.”
Bannan bats third and is a versatile defender. He pitches, catches and plays first base. In Thursday's game, Cole walked, singled, reached on an error and scored thrice.
“He juts hits the cover off the ball,” Coach Goyette said. “Cole has a ton of raw power, especially to left field. He's actually pulled a couple of balls this year that one-hopped the fence.”
Rodda bats clean-up and is also one of the league's most feared power hitters. Jimmy went 2-for-3 with a walk, an RBI double and two runs scored.
“Jimmy got off to a slow start early in the season due to some health issues,” Coach Goyette said. “But, he's starting to peak right now at the perfect time. Jimmy is hitting the ball hard, throwing hard and he's throwing strikes.”
Campen took the hill as Honesdale's starter, but lasted only into the second inning before handing the ball off to Rodda.
Jimmy went the rest of the way and didn't allow a run. He got stronger as the game went on, striking out the side in the final frame to close things out.
“This was a good win for us,” Coach Goyette said. “Now, we just have to wait and see who we play in Saturday's game.”