WEST PITTSTON – Josh Kopcza threw a four-hitter and got defensive support when he needed it Wednesday, allowing defending champion Wyoming Area to escape its Wyoming Valley Conference Division 2 opener with a 3-1, home-field victory over Lake-Lehman.
The Warriors managed only five hits themselves and did not have an RBI, but still managed one run in each of the first three innings.
When first baseman Matt Wright snagged a line drive and stepped on first for a game-ending double play, the Warriors had the first win in their attempt to repeat.
“We’re not going to walk on the field this year and bully any opponent,” Wyoming Area coach Ron Musto said. “We have to enter the contest with a very conservative mindset and that’s what we did.
“We bunted five times in the game from suicides to a safety squeeze to bunt-and-runs and run-and-bunts. We did not have any type of clutch hitting.”
Bad weather returned right when the WVC was ready to try to get baseball regular-season play started.
As a result, most of the week’s schedule was postponed.
The Warriors and Black Knights fought through barely playable, cold and windy conditions.
“Pitchers were throwing into a stiff wind that was blowing directly out to center field,” Musto said. “It would affect not only throwing into the wind, but their grip on the baseball.
“It definitely affected the game. However, the variables were the same for both teams.”
Kopcza struggled with his control at times, walking seven and striking out eight.
“He got himself into trouble a few times,” Musto said, “and our defense and himself were able to get us out of it.”
Back-to-back, two-out walks led to the only Lake-Lehman run on a Jake Tomolonis single in the top of the sixth.
Prior to that Kopcza had three inning-ending strikeouts to strand four runners and benefitted from another double play to end the fourth. Second baseman Tyler Dougherty got the play started to shortstop Cory Lescavage, who made the throw to Wright at first base.
It was not an easy double play for Lescavage to turn.
“Lescavage actually did a head-over-heels roll after making that throw,” Musto said.
Steve Homza led the offense, going 2-for-3 with a double and a run scored. Kopcza also had a double. Lescavage reached on an error and scored the first run in the second inning, then later reached by a walk and a single.
The first-week postponements made for a tough second week of the schedule.
Wyoming Area has three division games scheduled, including back-to-back on the road Monday at Tunkhannock and Tuesday at Dallas, which won its opener. The Warriors return home Friday to face Berwick, last season’s second-place team in the division.
Pittston Area will host defending champion and returning state Class AAAA finalist Wyoming Valley West in its Division 1 opener Monday then play three straight days, at Crestwood Wednesday, at Hazleton Area Thursday and home with Coughlin Friday.