The Franklin Township Hurricanes now have the Pocono Mountain Outlaws right where they want them.
Franklin took advantage of four Pocono Mountain miscues in the first two innings and jumped out to a six-run lead on the Outlaws. The 'Canes would use those runs to cruise the rest of the way, as the locals took the first game of the three-game series to decide the Keystone Senior Babe Ruth champion 6-1.
"We won four in a row in the losers' bracket last week," said Franklin manager Ricky Strohl. "We are coming off a couple of big wins there. We are on a roll right now. It seemed to just keep going today."
The Hurricanes took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first thanks to a Darren Wanamaker two-RBI single with two outs. Both runs off of Pocono Mountain starter Tom Robson were unearned due to two errors in the inning.
The story was much of the same for the Outlaws in the second. The first four Franklin batters to step to the dish reached base and eventually scored, but did so with the help of two more errors in the field. T.J. Protnicki led off the inning with a walk and made his way to third on consecutive wild pitches. Bryce Micciche would single him in one batter later.
P.J. Salerno then followed with a single. He and Micciche were each able to move up another base thanks to a fielding error on the right fielder. Catcher Steve Shanton proceeded to drive in Micciche on a single, while another error by the left fielder allowed Salerno to score and Shanton to take second. Two consecutive ground balls later Shanton would score. Cole Rex was credited with the RBI.
That turned out to be more than enough run support for Franklin starter Dane Ciavarella. The right-hander allowed just four hits in the game while striking out four. He never allowed more than one hit in any inning and the only run he surrendered came in the seventh after a hit-by-pitch, a wild pitch and a groundout.
"I felt good out there," said Ciavarella. "I know (Pocono Mountain) is a good hitting team. I just threw strikes because we have a good infield and a good outfield. If they hit the ball I just let our defense do the work.
"We put everything on the table in this first game because we didn't want to fall behind. We didn't want to go to their field knowing we absolutely had to win the game, so we put everything on the line in this one and it paid off."
Ciavarella was the only Hurricane with at least two hits. He singled twice.
Franklin will look to clinch the title on Thursday at Pocono Mountain West at 5:30 p.m. Zach Rex figures to get the start.
The Hurricanes have yet to lose consecutive games all summer, so the Outlaws will have their work cut out for them. Strohl knows how big a game one victory is, but refuses to let his team become complacent.
"It makes (Pocono Mountain) have to beat us two times in a row," said Strohl. "That is going to be a hard thing to do for any team. It just gives us a big advantage heading into the final two games.
"We are going to go into game two with a bunch of confidence. We will be ready for them Thursday night."
PM Outlaws 000 000 1 - 1 4 4
FT Hurricanes 240 000 x - 6 6 0
Robson and Archibald; Ciavarella and Shanton. W – Ciavarella. L – Robson.