Pillas combine to lead Tamaqua
bob ford/times news Tamaqua catcher Tyler Milot dives to catch the ball as Brandon Sedesse of Valley West slides home safely with his team's first run.
Jay Pilla provided the offense with a perfect start.
Chris Pilla gave the pitching staff a clutch finish.
Thanks in large part to the efforts of the two brothers, Tamaqua opened the Schuykill-Berks Legion League playoffs with a 9-5 victory over Valley View on Tuesday.
With the victory, Tamaqua moves into the winner's bracket semifinals of the eight-team double-elimination tournament. It will host Pine Grove tonight at 5:30 p.m.
"When you're playing in a double elimination tournament, winning the first game is a must," said Blue Sox's manager Mark Streisel. "If you don't get that win, you're playing every day and that puts a huge strain on a pitching staff."
The Pillas were a major reason why Tamaqua was able to get that opening win. At the plate, the pair combined for three hits, three runs scored, and four RBIs. The hits included a solo homer by Jay to leadoff the bottom of the first and a solo blast by Chris that capped a four-run fourth inning.
"I like to be a lot more aggressive than most leadoff batters," said Jay Pilla. "I want to try to put pressure on the opposing pitcher and defense right away.
"It was nice to start a big game off with the home run. It was also nice the way the entire team hit the ball tonight. Everyone contributed up and down the line-up and that's what we need in the playoffs."
When Pilla said everyone contributed he wasn't exaggerating. All 10 Blue Sox batters who came to the plate in the game picked up at least one hit and seven different players scored runs.
"The top of our order has been hitting pretty well all season," said Streisel. "But this was the best we've hit as a team. The bottom of the order came through with some clutch hits, especially in our two big innings."
Leading 2-1 heading into the home fourth, Tamaqua got RBI singles from Ryan Palsgrove and Adam Smarr - the seventh and eight batters in the order - before Jay Pilla's RBI ground out and Chris Pilla's home run capped the outburst.
After Valley View sliced the lead to 6-5 in the top of the fifth, the Blue Sox answered right back with three runs in the bottom of the frame as Eric James, Tyler Milot and Jay Pilla all delivered RBI singles.
Valley View had three runners on base in each of its final two atbats, but failed to score. Tyler Milot started a sweet 5-4-3 double play to end the sixth-inning threat and Chris Pilla came on in relief to retire three of the four batters he faced in the seventh.
"In that situation (first and second nobody out), getting that first batter is a key," said Chris Pilla. "Once I was able to do that, it relieves some of the stress and takes some of the momentum out of their rally.
"I've started some games and I've also relieved some this year so I'm comfortable wherever coach wants to use me. It's nice that he has the confidence to use me in situations like tonight and I'm happy I was able to get the job done."
Valley View 010 040 0 - 5 8 1
Tamaqua 200 430 x - 9 12 3
Spickler, Yanoshak (5), Wert (5) and Neidlinger, Troutman (6); Linkhorst. Streisel (5), C. Pilla (7) and Milot, James (5). W- Linkhorst. L- Spickler. S-C. Pilla.