Only two teams now remain in the Wayne County Teener League playoffs
While it may be a bit premature to use the word “dynasty” yet, Honesdale is certainly starting to make a convincing case.
Last year, the Stars steamrolled their way to a 17-1 record en route to the Wayne County Teener League championship ... and they’re arguably even better this year.
Under the direction of veteran skipper Lee Donat, Honesdale defended its league title this summer, reeling off 14 straight victories. As a result, the Stars are seeded first in the playoffs and have continued their winning ways.
On Their Way
Coach Donat’s lads defeated the Eagles, 8-4, in the opening round, catapulting them into a semifinal showdown with Re-Max.
That contest was played Monday night at the old HHS varsity field and resulted in yet another dominant Honesdale performance.
Zach Branning drew the starting mound assignment and earned the win. He was the beneficiary of an offensive explosion that culminated in a 18-3 Mercy Rule triumph.
“We can really swing the bats,” Coach Donat said just moments after the win. “This may be the most explosive team I’ve ever coached. These kids are very aggressive at the plate and on the bases.”
With this latest win, Honesdale returns to the Teener League championship series against Mountain View.
Weather permitting, Game One of this best-of-three set is slated for Wednesday here in the Maple City. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.
At the Plate
The Stars wasted no time breaking out the big bats in Monday’s game.
Honesdale erupted for five runs in the bottom of the first inning and never looked back.
Led by Luke Janiszewski, Dustin Ferraro and Tyee Irving, the home team tacked on seven more in the second, five in the third and two in the fourth.
Janiszewski delivered the game’s first big blow, smoking a bases-loaded double to deep left. Luke, the team’s slugging catcher, closed out his game with three hits, four RBIs and three runs scored.
“We bat him clean-up for a reason,” Coach Donat said. “Luke has a lot of power and he can really hit some bombs. He does a good job behind the plate, but he has the ability to break games open with his bat.”
Ferraro also enjoyed a banner day at the dish versus Re-Max.
Dustin came up in the second with the bases loaded and promptly lined an opposite field triple down the right field line. He added a two-run double in the third to close out his day with five RBIs.
“Dustin has only struck out once all season,” said Coach Donat. “He always puts the ball in play and makes things happen. Dustin has been pounding the ball lately and he had a fantastic game here today.”
Irving contributed big at-bats as well.
The biggest came in the bottom of the third when he absolutely crushed a two-run homer. The ball finally came to rest at the base of a chain link fence behind the football bleachers in centerfield.
“Tyee is just a 13-year-old and he struggled a little bit at the plate this year,” Coach Donat said. “But Tyee’s a big strong kid and when he gets hold of one it goes forever.”
On the Hill
Branning has been the ace of Honesdale’s pitching staff all season long. And on Monday, he simply overpowered the young Re-Max line-up.
Zach worked four stellar frames. He allowed just one run on four hits while walking one and fanning five.
“I can’t say enough about Zach’s pitching,” Coach Donat said. “He always keeps his cool and only worries about the things he can control. Zach is a very coachable kid who sets an excellent example for his teammates.”
Branning handed the ball off to his bullpen in the fifth. Mark Christina and Ferraro combined to close things out.
Ryan Fredo was the Renegades’ starter and eventually absorbed the loss. Dallas Gombita and Eddie Skies also toed the rubber for Re-Max.
Over & Out
With this victory, Honesdale improved its overall record to 16-0 on the season.
Over the course of the past two years, the Stars have compiled an eye-popping mark of 23-1 ... a winning percentage of .958.
The home team also flashed some Gold Glove defense.
Honesdale closed out the top of the third with a silky-smooth double play. With runners on first and second, Branning snared a hard-hit comebacker.
Zach spun and fired to Drew Hazen at second, who unleashed a strike to Ryan Sayers at first.
“Our defense has come a long way since the start of the season,” said Coach Donat. “Our kids don’t beat themselves. Their heads are in the game. They know the situation and they just make the plays.”