By Tom Fox
For Times Leader
WILKES-BARRE — With the way Aiden Murphy was dealing on the mound, it was going to be hard for Pittston Township to score.
And considering how Murphy’s Mountain Top teammates were crushing the ball with the stick, it made the night even tougher.
Paced by a three-hit, three-RBI night by Jakson Amend, Mountain Top ripped a total of 10 hits off a quintet of Pittston Township pitchers, and Murphy threw a complete game with eight strikeouts en route to a 10-3 victory in District 16 pool play.
Mountain Top improves to 3-0 in Pool B play, while Pittston Township drops to 2-1. Pittston and Nanticoke, which also has one setback, play today in the final round of pool play.
“I think there was some pressure entering this game, but the kids just rose to the occasion,” Mountain Top manager Matt Zaleski said. “They played great. Pittston Township has a nice team. We just happened to have it going with the bats, and Aiden continued to get stronger as the game went along.”
No doubt, Mountain Top can flat out stroke the ball.
It wasn’t just seeing-eye singles or soft bloopers that barely fell in. Instead, it was hard, line-drive shots to left and center. Opposite field pokes. Balls that took one-hops to the fence.
And it wasn’t just the starters. Reserve players Logan Arnold and Tyler Shedlock also joined in the hitting parade when they got to the plate.
The top three in the order – Michael Zaleski, Murphy and Amend – did the most damage. Combined, they had seven hits, seven RBI and scored four runs.
Mountain Top was consistent, scoring two runs in each of the first five innings.
“We have a lot of good hitters on this team, No. 1 through No. 12,” Matt Zaleski said. “It makes it hard on me because we have 12 good hitters. It’s a good problem to have, though.”
An Amend two-run double gave Mountain Top a 2-0 lead after one, but Pittston Township had its golden chance to steal momentum one frame later.
Carmen Sciandra’s club got one back, thanks to J.J. Walsh’s RBI single to right. But two runners were thrown out at third – one trying to advance from first to third on Walsh’s hit and the other tagged out at the bag on Sean Connors’ base knock to center.
“I told the team that I felt I made two bad judgment plays as a coach, and I feel that I deflated our momentum,” said Sciandra, the Pittston Township manager. “I told the boys that inning was on me. In the flow of the game, that was tough because we really lost a lot of steam there.”
Murphy was nearly unhittable after that inning.
Despite a brief hiccup in the fifth where Pittston Township scored two runs, Murphy’s fastball picked up velocity with the sounds of leather popping throughout the South Wilkes-Barre Little League field.
He retired seven straight batters at one point, including striking out the side in the third.
Mountain Top, on the other hand, continued to mash the ball.
Arnold’s double and Max Albee’s sacrifice fly grew the lead to 6-1.
Back-to-back run-scoring singles by Murphy and Amend increased it to 8-1 after four.
And Michael Zaleski’s two-run right-field single in the fifth all but sealed the victory.
“They were the aggressor. There’s no doubt about that,” Sciandra said. “They played efficient in the field, and they ran the bases well. Their pitcher, I thought we were on him early, but he just settled down. He got really comfortable from that third inning on, and threw a real good game. They are a good team.”
Sciandra saved all of his pitching for today as each one of his five pitchers threw 20 or less pitches. Pittston Township did have 10 hits against Murphy; two each by Walsh, Connors and Andrew Gallia.
“We are still alive, but it’s tough to tell an 11- or 12-year old kid that it’s only one loss. But that’s where we are at. We are in good position. We have our pitching available, so we will see what happens against Nanticoke,” Sciandra said.
Mountain Top 10, Pittston Township 3
Pittston Twp. `AB`R`H`BI
Pisano CF, P `3`0`1`0
Sciandra 2B, P `3`1`1`0
Baiera P, SS `3`0`1`1
Gallia RF,1B, P `3`0`2`0
Bennie 1B,P `3`0`0`0
Turant LF `1`0`0`0
Elko LF, CF,2B `2`1`0`0
Murdoch 3B `2`0`1`0
Nocito 3B `1`0`0`0
Walsh SS,2B, LF`2`1`2`1
Cocco 2B, LF `1`0`0`0
Connors C `3`0`2`0
2B — Pisano.
Mt. Top `AB`R`H`BI
M. Zaleski RF, 1B `3`1`2`3
Murphy P `4`2`2`1
Amend C, CF-3B `3`1`3`3
Harding 1B `1`0`0`0
Arnold LF `1`1`1`1
Albee 2B `2`0`0`1
J. Zaleski SS `2`1`0`0
Andrews 3B, C `2`0`0`0
Schwartz CF `0`1`0`0
Shedlock RF `2`1`1`0
Makowski LF, CF `1`2`1`0
Dean 3B `1`0`0`0
2B — M. Zaleski, Murphy, Arnold
PT `010 `020 — 3
MT `222 `22x — 10
Pittston Twp. WB `IP `H`R`ER`BB`SO
Baiera (L) `1.1`2`2`2`1`1
Mt. Top `IP`H`R`ER`BB`SO
Murphy (W) `6`10`3`1`0`8
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