FREELAND In 2001, the Arizona Diamondbacks won the World Series defeating the New York Yankees.
A big reason for their success was their one-two punch of Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson. The two future Hall-of-Famers overpowered batters at the plate time and time again.
The Tamaqua 11 & 12 year-old baseball squad looks to be following the game plan of the 2001 D'backs.
Pitchers Casey Rother and Josh Inama looked like Little League versions of Schilling and Johnson on Friday night in Freeland. The two combined to strike out nine batters and allow only one hit each. Their dominating performance helped Tamaqua down Freeland 9-1 to advance to the District 18 winner's bracket final.
"We're real deep at the pitching position," said Tamaqua coach Charlie Kistler. "We have three real good guys with Rother, Inama, and (Thad) Zuber who can go out there and play real strong. I can't really ask more than we got tonight from our staff. They just went out there and pitched great."
The Tamaqua offense got going early as well, scoring seven runs in the first two innings. Freeland off-speed specialist Lukas Smith had some trouble early on locating the zone, walking five batters in those two frames.
The big offensive play for the Raiders came in the second when Zeke Wassell hit a bases clearing-triple scoring three runs, giving Tamaqua an early 7-1 lead.
"That's a real talented team we just played and we knew that coming in," said Freeland coach Ryan Jastremski. "Sometimes you get beat by the better team and that's what happened here tonight. We just got behind in the count repeatedly in the early innings and when you play a team as talented as Tamaqua the end result isn't going to be good."
The run support was there for Rother, who started the game for Tamaqua. And he certainly didn't waver. The Raiders' hurler retired the first three batters he faced and never looked back. He gave up just one hit, one run, and struck out six.
Then it was Inama's turn.
Inama constantly hit the strike zone and with force, giving up just one hit and striking out three.
The third part of the Raiders impressive staff, Thad Zuber, came in during the sixth with one out. It took Zuber five pitches to retire Freeland.
"Our success is no doubt because of how we've been pitching," said Kistler. "I hate to say that because we've been hitting well too, but there's no denying the talent we have on our staff. I literally wouldn't trade a single player on my team for anybody. This is a great bunch of kids who play hard and work hard."
Rother also did some damage at the plate getting two hits and two RBIs, including a home run. Cody Scherer also had a nice game getting three hits, including a triple and an RBI.
For Freeland Cory Baran had a hit and an RBI, Trevor Wilkinson had a hit and Derek Oberrender had a hit.
Tamaqua 250 011 0 – 9 10 1
Freeland 010 000 – 1 3 1
Rother, Inama (4), Zuber (6); Smith, Boyle (4); W – Rother. L – Smith.