PINE GROVE - Tamaqua head coach Jeff Reading made the first move in this chess game they call the PIAA Baseball Championships.
Instead of pitching his ace, Brett Kosciolek, the Tamaqua boss elected to send Derek Rottet to the mound instead in Monday's first round game against Franklin Towne Charter School, the Philadelphia Public League champion at Pine Grove's Walter M. Stump Stadium. And it worked.
Rottet, who hadn't pitched since the Schuylkill League semifinals in the same stadium back on May 13 gave Reading just what he wanted in what turned out to be a 11-1 win in six innings.
Rottet pitched five strong innings, striking out five, allowing one run and two hits before turning it over to Josh Zehner to finish it off in the sixth.
"Derek could give us five five good solid innings," Reading said. "He mentioned that he felt tightness in his back, but he held his own since he didn't pitch in a good three weeks. He came out today and threw well. Just one inning he lost his spots and got a little erratic. He refocused, we got a good defensive play to get us out of the inning and got them one, two, three in the fifth.
Tamaqua now advances to Thursday's quarterfinals against District 2 champion Abington Heights, a 4-3 winner in nine innings over District 4 champion Jersey Shore, at a site to be determined.
"I told the kids we have to execute today and come out and put the ball in play," Reading said afterwards. "In their past two games, they (Franklin) had a total of 12 errors. I give them a lot of credit. they came right out at the start and hit a seed out to left field on the first pitch for a single. When you see that happen the first pitch of the game you wonder what are we in for?
"We hadn't seen their pitcher (Tim Hart), His stats were impressive. Ninety-seven strikeouts in 54 1.3 innings with a 2.32 ERA and a 9-1 record. We didn't know if we were going to see a fireballer or a junk pitcher or what.
"Early on we told the kids to stay back, be patient and wait because he threw a change up and tried to sneak the fast ball by you. We adjusted, took the ball the other way. They left us some holes for us, the second baseman was out of position a couple of times and we got some timely hits."
Tamaqua jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second inning by sending eight batters to the plate. Derek Rottet walked and Nathan MacDonald was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second with one out. Zachary Coleman, running for Rottet, scored on a single to right by Ian Nicholls and Matt Minchoff doubled to drive in MacDonald and Nicholls.
The Raiders added two more in the third when Brett Kosciolek and Luke Matsago led off with back-to-back singles. Kosciolek scored on a sacrifice fly to right by Derek Rottet and Matt Yeakel, running for Matsago, scored on a fly ball to center by Nathan MacDonald.
Franklin got its lone run of the game in the top of the fourth to cut the Tamaqua lead to 5-1. With two out, Chris Hartman doubled, went to second on a passed ball and scored on a throwing error.
The Blue Raiders bounced right back, however, with two of their own in the bottom of the inning. Bo Rottet led off with a double, went to third on a ground out and scored on a sacrifice fly by Kosciolek. Matsago walked, courtesy runner Yeakel came on and stole second, took third on a wild pitch and scored on a Derek Rottet single.
A four-run sixth inning ended the contest when Adam Bates hit a single to right driving home Blaker and MacDonald with the 10th and 11th run.
Nicholls finished with two hits, scored a run and had two RBI's, while Kosciolek also had two hits, scored twice and drove in a run. MacDonald scored twice and drove in two runs.
FT Charter 000 100 - 1 2 2
Tamaqua 032 204 - 11 10 1
Hart, Callahan (4), Padilla (6) and Hammerstein, Depaul (6); D. Rottet, Zehner (6) and Matsago. W - D. Rottet.