EASTON - Hazleton Area let one slip away on opening day on the road in Easton, Saturday.
After scoring twice for a 2-1 lead after three innings, the Cougars looked they were home free until the sixth.
That's when the Red Rovers exploded for six runs en route to a 7-4 non-league baseball win.
"I can't complain about the way we played," Gino Cara, the Hazleton Area coach said. "You know, we pitched well, we played good solid defense, but they got the hits to fall late in the game and those things happen."
Cara was extremely pleased with the opening day pitching of Anthony Zaloga.
"He threw 55 pitches and we pulled him," Cara said. "He gave up one earned run, three hits and struck out five. That's a pretty good day early in the year to a pretty good team. (Easton) might have one its better teams."
Easton took a 1-0 lead in the first inning, before the Cougars tied it in the top of the second. Matt Barletta singled, stole second and moved to third on a groundout, before riding home on Nick Thrash's RBI single.
Hazleton Area went in front with another one-run rally in the top of the third. With two out, Tyler Rubasky singled, pinch runner Henderson Concepcion stole second, and Carl Cara delivered the first of his two hits on the day for an RBI.
"Those two innings showed us what type of offense we can bring to the game," the Cougar coach said. "We put the ball in play and if we continue that, we will be a pretty good team...the kind of team I know we are capable of being."
Easton was held at bay until the sixth, when it grinding out the winning rally. Four singles, one each from Ian Hayden, Dom Mancuso, Luis Hernandez and Nick Beinlich, a triple off the bat of Chase Bryant and a final single by Mike Laduca produced the scoring.
Hazleton Area didn't go quietly in its final at bat. An error, a walk and a two-run single by Rich Gawel accounted for the final runs by the Cougars.
"We're off until Friday when we open the (Wyoming Valley Conference) with Pittston at home, so we will get to work on a few things between now and then," Cara said.
Carl Cara had two of Hazleton's hits with a single and double for an RBI. Gawel singled in two runners, Thrash had an RBI single, and Brady Wolfe, Barletta and Rubasky also singled.
Erik Johnson suffered the mound loss for the Cougars.