Patriots outlast Cougars in 9 innings in WVC opener
By SAM MATTA (Staff Writer)
Published: March 31, 2012
JAMIE PESOTINE/Staff Photographer Hazleton Area's Anthony Zaloga throws a pitch during Friday's Wyoming Valley Conference baseball opener against Pittston Area at Rex Antinozzi Field. in Hazleton
*** Pittston Area's John Kielbosa didn't know if he was going to make the baseball team this spring.
In fact, his coach Paul Zaffuto knew little about Kielbosa until he saw him in the batting cage at the start of preseason drills.
After Friday afternoon, you can bet Zaffuto will be seeing a lot more of the reserve player.
Kielbosa drilled a pinch-hit RBI single in the top of the ninth inning and Jordan Houseman followed with another run-scoring single to lifting the Patriots to a 3-1 win at Rex Antinozzi Field.
It was the opening game of the Wyoming Valley Conference for both teams, and it was the second straight loss for the Cougars, which fell to Easton last Saturday.
"I didn't know much about (Kielbosa)," Zaffuto said. "He played soccer last summer and he wasn't around until we had tryouts. I noticed when he was in the (batting) cage that he got his bat on the ball, and I thought maybe we could use him."
It was a tough no-decision for starting Hazleton Area pitcher Anthony Zaloga, who gave up just one run, struck out six, walked only one and allowed five hits in seven innings.
"He pitched a heck of a game for us," Cougars head coach Gino Cara said. "Sure, it is disappointing, especially the way Anthony pitched."
Pittston Area southpaw Chuck Bressler also was impressive on the mound. He allowed just two hits, fanned four, walked
five and allowed only one earned run. And like Zaloga, Bressler didn't get a decision; that went to reliever Mike Schwab.
"Both (starting) pitchers had a great game," Zaffuto said. "It was very big as far as I'm concerned since this was our first game. I couldn't be happier."
The Cougars had chances to score more runs, something that wasn't lost on Cara.
"We left our share of runners on base and you just can't do that,'' Cara said. "We have to put the ball on the barrel and plate them."
Hazleton Area left a total of 10 runners stranded, including two in each of the fourth, sixth, seventh and eighth innings.
The only time that the Cougars scored came after a booming double from senior Matt Barletta plated Carl Cara in the fourth.
Cara added a leadoff single in the eighth. Designated hitter Rich Gawel had the only other hit for the locals, a single in the fifth.
Zaloga dodged a bullet in the fourth when Pittston Area loaded the bases loaded and tried to squeeze home a run. A walk, a single by Tony Schwab and blooper just behind the bag at third by Tyler Loftuts filled the bases.
Evan Hahn then attempted a one-strike squeeze bunt, but the ball barely hit the cutout in front of home plate, where catcher Tyler Rubasky fielded the ball and made the force out. Zaloga then got designated hitter Brian Delaney to bounce out to second to end the threat.
The Patriots scored the tying run in the top of the sixth when Josh Razvillas doubled, and with two outs, Loftus singled him home.
"They got that big hit there, and you've gotta give Pittston credit, for such a young team, they played very well," Cara said.
Hazleton Area put two runners on with two walks with one out in the sixth, but couldn't get a hit to fall. And in the seventh, the Cougars again used two walks to get two runners on with two outs, but they again came up empty.
The Cougars then wasted their final scoring chance in the home eighth.
Carl Cara led off with a single, and cleanup hitter Barletta bunted him over to second on a first-pitch offering. After Evan Vigna was intentionally walked, a strikeout and a flyout ended the threat.
"You gotta plate a run there," Gino Cara said. "But, you know, it's a long season... We've just gotta pick it better than we did (today)."