First Posted: 6/20/2013
By TOM ROBINSON
For the Sunday Dispatch
The Greater Pittston Senior American Legion team received notice Wednesday that repeating as Wyoming Valley League champions will not be an easy task.
After winning its first three games and losing a one-run game, Greater Pittston was roughed up late by Plains for a second straight defeat.
Plains broke away with seven runs in the last two innings of an 8-2 win over Greater Pittston, which was playing for the fourth of six straight days.
“We had been playing very well,” Greater Pittston manager Jerry Ranielli said. “We just ran out of steam a little bit.”
More challenges are ahead for the defending champions, who will remain busy in the upcoming week while playing shorthanded while many of their veteran players are away for Senior Week.
Greater Pittston got a later start than most of its league rivals, leading to at least two complications. The late start meant many Greater Pittston players had a longer layoff between high school and American Legion play, possibly throwing a few batting strokes off. It also meant stringing games together while catching up to the number played by rivals would challenge a pitching staff with a heavy workload.
So far, the pitching has held up to the challenge better.
The last four runs in Wednesday’s loss came without the ball leaving the infield in the seventh inning.
The offense managed just three runs combined in the consecutive losses.
“That layoff after high school hurt us,” Ranielli said. “They had the two weeks off and now they’re still adjusting to the wood bats.
“Our pitchers have been keeping us in games, but they can only do so much.”
Greater Pittston started the stretch of playing for six straight days by allowing just four runs over the first three games.
“Our starting pitching has been dynamite,” Ranielli said after Wednesday’s loss. “Even Adam (Romanowski) today had hard luck. He only gave up four runs in six innings.
“Our starting pitching has been very good, but so has everybody else’s. We’ve seen everybody’s number-one.”
Being a defending champion with many players back and wins in the first three games will lead to being matched up against each opponent’s best effort. The challenges could get more difficult in the days ahead as Greater Pittston tries to keep itself in position to finish in the top four of the 11-team league, as needed to earn a playoff berth.
“We have five more games next week without them ,” said Ranielli, who was expecting to lose seven players Saturday and planning to replace some of them with players who also are on the Youth Legion team. “The schedule is a little baffling, but what are you going to do?”