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On This Date (July 13, 2004): JTLL wins D-18 crown

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Since May of 1999, the Times News Sports Department has featured an On This Date practically every day, highlighting an event that happened in the past. With the coronavirus putting a halt to sports locally and nationally, the On This Dates have been expanded to the stories that actually ran in the next day’s newspaper. Today’s On This Date story is from July 13, 2004).

By Justin Pelletier


Jim Thorpe proved it was the best team in District 18 Tuesday as it blasted four home runs in the fourth inning to pace itself to a 12-6 victory over Valley West.

The victory gave Thorpe the District 18 11-12 year-old Little League tournament and will now advance to the regional playoffs.

Jim Thorpe’s eight-run fourth was crucial as it came immediately after Valley West took the lead, 6-3, with a six-run fourth of its own.

“I saw something from this team that I haven’t seen in four years of coaching,” Jim Thorpe coach Rob Stermer said. “They kept their heads up and came right back the next inning. That was huge. The personality of this team makes them very easy to coach.”

Pete McGuire led off JT’s fourth by drawing a walk and after one batter was retired, leadoff man Joe Kloap was the first to go big fly with a two-run shot to center.

Still down by one with two outs, Cody Kmetz slugged his fourth home run of the tournament, a tremendous drive to leftfield to tie the game.

The score didn’t stay tied long as catcher Zach DeMarco went back-to-back with another homer to left.

After Ben Stermer drew a walk and Brian O’Donnell singled, Tom Hartman brough home the fifth run of the frame with a single.

The two-out rally allowed Thorpe to bat around, which meant that McGuire was given another chance to do some damage in the inning.

McGuire made the most of another chance as he smacked JT’s fourth home run, a three-run shot to center.

“That was fun to watch,” Stermer said. “It’s fun to watch them go. There’s not an easy out in this line-up, one to 12, not just one through nine.”

The eight-run inning shocked Valley West, and relief pitcher Pat Janecki took advantage, holding the visitors scoreless the rest of the way while striking out the side in order in the sixth to end the game and begin the celebration.

Valley West’s impressive fourth inning also included a home run, a grand slam to be exact, off the bat of Chad Hoffman.

Valley West had seven hits in the inning, including RBI singles by Adam Davis and Josh Salvisburg.

“In runs we got down,” Stermer said. “But in spirit we didn’t. (The players kept it together and played as a team.

“I just want to say it’s a great team effort. All the coaches helped and everything. I’m very proud that we are the first Jim Thorpe team in 23 years to win a district championship. I don’t know where these guys are going to stop. They can play a lot of baseball from here. That is our focus now.”

Thorpe will advance to Regionals, where they will begin play on Friday tentatively at 4:30 p.m. While an opponent and site aren’t known yet, JT will play somewhere in District 16 (the Scranton/Lackawanna County area).

Valley West 000 600 - 6 10 2

Jim Thorpe 210 81x - 12 12 1

Genasevich, Bayzick (4) and Harrison, Cara (3), Harrison (4); Kmetz, Janecki (4) and DeMarco. HR: Valley West - Chad Hoffman (4th, three on); Jim Thorpe - Joe Kloap (4th, one on), Cody Kmetz (4th, none on), Zach DeMarco (4th, none on), Pete McGuire (4th, two on).

Cody Kmetz, Zach DeMarco, Joe Kloap and Pete McGuire all hit home runs during Jim Thorpe's win over Valley West that clinched the 2004 District 18 LL title. TIMES NEWS FILE PHOTO