STROUDSBURG – Sunday afternoon Tamaqua used the longball to advance past Northwest in the Section 6 Little League tournament.
It was a different story on Monday, as Tamaqua took advantage of some timely hitting and a few defensive miscues in order to get the job done.
After a slow start, Tamaqua erupted for six runs in the fourth inning and went on to defeat Stroudsburg National 7-3 in its final game in the loser's bracket. The locals recorded nine hits on the day, with all but one being a single, and were aided by four Stroudsburg errors in the big inning. Tamaqua now moves on to the final and will have to beat Warwick on consecutive days in order to capture the sectional title.
"The kids put a lot of pressure on themselves," said Tamaqua manager Charlie Kistler. "And you could see it early on. You could see all the weight on the top of our order. We struggled up top, but thankfully the bottom kids came through. They got on and we grinded out seven runs.
"On top of all that, we only had one error. If you can limit your errors then you can usually stay in the game. Plus we kept the ball in the park. The kids did everything well today."
Both teams had trouble scoring through the first three innings of play, as Tamaqua led by a score of 1-0 thanks to Zeke Wassell's RBI-single in the third. Matt Weaver also tried scoring on the play, but was gunned down at the plate by Stroudsburg right fielder Austin Silfee.
Wassell, who started for Tamaqua, ran into some trouble in second and fourth innings but found his way out of the jams. With runners on second and third with one out in the second, Wassell got the next two batters on a pop out to first and a strike out swinging to end the frame. Then, with runners on first and second with no outs in the fourth, Wassell induced a groundball to second. Riley McHugh fielded the ball, tagged the runner going to second, and then flipped the ball to first for a double play. The next batter would ground out to short to end the inning.
Wassell's only mistakes came in the fifth. He allowed a RBI-double to Stroudsburg's Will Kaiser before surrendering a two-run shot two to Emmett McCauley two batters later. Other than that Wassell allowed just four hits while striking out six and walking four.
"(Zeke) did a great job," Kistler said. "He needs to be controlled. Coach (Steve) Zuber does a great job of calling pitches and keeping the kids under control when they start to lose their minds.
"You could see Zeke losing it a little bit there in the fifth, but Coach Zuber came out and settled him down. Coach Zuber is kind of stern, but he is well liked by the kids."
Still, by the time Stroudsburg scored its three runs Tamaqua was already up 7-0. Wassell, Weaver and Jacob Mateyak all recorded RBI-singles in the fourth. Weaver actually cleared the bases, as his RBI-single turned into a two-base error on Stroudsburg's right fielder. They were the only hits of the inning.
Wassell ended the day 3-for-3 with two RBIs. Weaver finished 2-for-3 with a double and a RBI.
Tamaqua will play Warwick on Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the first game of the finals. Warwick thumped Tamaqua 18-0 in the first game of the double elimination tournament on Saturday. Warwick then knocked off Stroudsburg 17-2 on Sunday.
Despite being a heavy underdog heading into the finals, Kistler relayed the same message to his kids.
"Play big," said Kistler. "That's been our motto all year long. Play big. I know these kids will come out and play big. We'll see what happens."
Stroudsburg 000 030 - 3 4 4
Tamaqua 001 60x - 7 9 1
Clements, Mount (4), Blaney (5) and McCauley; Wassell, Scherer (6) and Inama. W – Wassell, L – Clements. HR: S – McCauley (5th, one on).