With the Keystone Senior Babe Ruth League going to a single-elimination playoff format this year,Franklin Hurricanes manager Ricky Strohl knew there was no room for error.
That's why he went with his ace, Dane Ciavarella, against Hazleton in the first round of the post-season on Monday night at Christman Field.
Ciavarella didn't disappoint as he hurled as he took a no-hitter into the seventh inning and held on for a 4-2 victory keeping the Hurricanes alive for another day.
The Hurricanes will take on the Panther Valley Black Diamonds, another first round winner, at 5:30 p.m. today at Jim Thorpe High School in the second round.
"In the playoffs this year you have to win to advance so I knew throwing Dane we had the best chance of winning," Strohl said, whose team split with Hazleton during the regular season. "He hit his spots, we played some 'D' for him. All around we played pretty well today, I was happy."
The Hurricanes backed up Ciavarella with great defense, who didn't allow a baserunner until the sixth inning when Matt Michelin was hit by a pitch and then walked Franklin Santana. Both were left stranded, however.
In the seventh, Hazleton managed to break up the no-hitter when leadoff hitter Henderson Concepcion punched a perfect bunt down the third base side, beat it out and went to second on an overthrow. With one out, Miguel Rosario singled to score Concepcion and Eudomar Concepcion singled home Rosario. Ciavarella added two more strikeouts to end it.
"When we played them in the regular season, I pitched the first game so I knew they couldn't hit the two ball so I threw the curve ball all day," Ciavarella said. "I switched it up a lot, Steve Shanton made some good decisions behind the plate and I just brought it today.
"We played good defense, but it was smart baseball to lay down the bunt and making the hit."
The Hurricanes took a 1-0 lead in the second when Shanton, walked, stoled second, moved to third when Ian Sterling reached on an error and scored on a sacrifice fly by Justin Kaminski.
They added to the lead with another run in the third. Bryce Micciche hit his second single of the night, stoled second, moved to third on a sacrifice fly by Ciavarella and scored on a wild pitch.
"Bryce has been coming along strong," said Strohl. "He hit well for us last year and struggled a little bit this year. But know he's finally coming around and I'm glad he is for the playoffs. He's another player we can rely on."
Franklin gave Ciavarella two more insurance runs in the fourth when it put four hits together. Dom Pompa singled, Shanton doubled, Sterling singled and Maminski singled with Pompa and Shanton both crossing the plate.
"Any time you can take advantage of the other team's mistakes and score some runs, that's a big thing at this level," Strohl noted. "To score on those wild pitches took some smart baserunning. We got lucky and got two runs off of them."
Hazleton 000 000 2 - 2 3 1
Hurricanes 011 200 x - 4 7 1
Castillo, Terrero (4) and Rosario; Ciavarella and Shanton. W - Ciavarella.