Bears oust Konkrete Kids
Linda Rothrock/Special to THE TIMES NEWS Pleasant Valley's Connor Cardenas looks towards second base after Northampton's Jeff Sell scores on a base hit.
NORTHAMPTON - The situation was eerily similar to Saturday.
Fortunately for Pleasant Valley, though, the result was different.
Just two days after watching a seemingly comfortable advantage evaporate against Stroudsburg in the Mountain Valley Conference championship, the Bears faced another opponent attempting a last-minute rally.
Leading Northampton by five runs Monday in the opening round of the District 11 4A playoffs, PV pitcher Tom Agosta quickly got the first two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning. The Kids, however, came up with three straight hits to plate one run and were one batter away from bringing the tying run to the plate.
Agosta, determined not to let that happen, battled through a long at-bat with leadoff hitter Ryan Duch before striking him out to end the game.
The 7-3 victory not only erased some of the memories from Saturday's collapse, but it also lifts the Bears into today's quarterfinal round, where they will face second-seeded Liberty.
"I was just trying to stay calm, but it is in the back of your mind I guess," said Agosta. "You just try to stay calm and throw strikes. If you stick to the gameplan, things work themselves out.
"He was battling, and I was battling just as hard."
Agosta allowed just four hits through the first six innings before Northampton strung the three together in the seventh. The PV right-hander struck out three and walked just one in his 116-pitch performance.
"You never lose confidence in your team, but it is in the back of your mind," said Bears head coach Charlie Inserra about watching another lead possibly disappear. "For me, you just have to trust the kids that have been playing for you all year. What happened Saturday is something I haven't seen ever in my playing or coaching career ... Is it in the back of your mind? Yes. But you can't allow those thoughts to creep in.
"Tom was outstanding today ... I got in touch with him (Sunday) and told him he had the ball. Our other two pitchers really weren't on the kind of rest we were comfortable with so it was him or bust. And he really stepped up. What a fantastic job."
Even before Agosta took the mound, he had a lead to work with.
Rob Getz opened the game with a walk and moved to second on a single by Dan Hrbek. John Guadagna followed with a sharp grounder to first. The Kids' Mark Szoke stepped on the bag and throw to second in hopes of a double play but his throw was wide and Getz raced home for a 1-0 PV lead.
The Bears, seeded 11th, added three more runs in the second frame. Jordan Caffrey, Troy VanHouten and Connor Cardenas had consecutive hits for one run while a Getz groundout plated another tally. Hrbek came through later in the frame with an RBI single to make it 4-0.
"Our mindset was great, we were swinging the bats great in batting practice," said Getz, who added a run-scoring hit in the fourth inning and made a number of quality plays from his shortstop position. "We also played well on defense.
"At the end though I was thinking this can't happen again. But we pulled it out. I had confidence in Tommy getting the last guy."
Agosta helped his own cause in the sixth, extending the margin to 7-1 with a two-out RBI hit.
"Our guys have shown that they are capable of battling with two strikes and putting the ball in play," said Inserra. "Getting those extra runs and two-out runs alleviates a lot of stress on the pitcher and on the defense."
Hrbek ended with three hits while VanHouten had two hits and scored two runs.
Pleasant Vy. 130 201 0 - 7 10 1
N'ampton 010 001 1 - 3 7 4
Agosta and Cardenas; Yanek and Kramer. W - Agosta. L - Yanek.