Sophomore pitcher shines as Deer Lakes avenges earlier loss to Freeport
Every few days during the past two weeks, Deer Lakes baseball coach Jon Pedrosky came across another reminder of his team's lopsided loss to Section 3-AA rival Freeport on April 21.
Pedrosky and his Lancers made sure they left Monday's rematch with more pleasant memories.
Deer Lakes established a four-run lead in the first inning and maintained a comfortable margin during its 7-4 home win over Freeport.
Winning pitcher Ryan Petrone, a sophomore, struck out six of the first seven batters he faced and finished with three hits allowed in 5 1⁄3 innings to lead the Lancers (13-4, 9-2), who avenged their 12-2 loss and moved into a tie with Freeport (9-5, 9-2) for first place.
The Lancers and the Yellowjackets have one section game left each.
“I've been reading newspaper articles (about Freeport) for a couple weeks,” Pedrosky said. “Stuff like that, it's motivation. Seeing them win and beat up on teams, you just kind of couldn't wait until you play them again.”
Discipline at the plate allowed Deer Lakes to pull ahead early. Four of the Lancers' first six batters walked. Scott Ventura drove in Matt Olesnevich with a single to left field, and Zach Hudicek's sacrifice fly brought home Ventura. Then Josh Plocki hit a two-run single to score Todd Coleman and Jimmy Feil.
Nathan Pastorek, the star on the mound in Freeport's mercy-rule win over Deer Lakes, replaced starter Ryan Eshenbaugh midway through the first inning.
“If it's a different first inning, I think it's a different game, but it is what it is,” Freeport coach Chris Graczyk said. “They put the ball in play, and we didn't make the plays that we needed to make.”
Petrone took a no-hitter into the fourth inning before Brendon Zack broke it up with an RBI single that cut Freeport's deficit to 5-1. He did not allow another hit until the sixth inning.
“It felt good to go out there and go against a good team,” Petrone said. “I was a little nervous. After the first couple innings, the excitement took over instead of the nerves.
“I definitely wanted to stay in longer, but I was starting to get a little sore, and I couldn't do as good for my team. We had a great reliever in Todd Coleman come in and take care of everything.”
Back-to-back singles by Josh Beale and Zack ended Petrone's outing and started a Freeport rally. Pastorek hit a two-out single that drove in Beale and Zack for Freeport's final runs.
Freeport is scheduled to close out Section 3 play at Burrell (8-6, 5-5) on Tuesday, and Deer Lakes, winner of six games in a row, concludes its schedule at West Shamokin (2-10, 2-7) on Wednesday.
“After the last time we played (Freeport), we talked about starting over with a new season,” Pedrosky said. “We had it handed to us pretty good the first time, and we knew we were a better team than that.
“So we started the season over right after that, and we've been getting on a roll and hopefully hitting our stride at the right time.”