Towanda baseball captures NTL East title
WYALUSING - A year ago the Towanda Black Knights were locked in a race for the NTL East title and everything came crashing down on their home field when Wyalusing left with a victory.
This year the Black Knights were back in the hunt for a league title and this time it was Towanda getting a victory on the Rams home field to lock things up, as they picked up a 14-2 victory to capture the NTL East crown.
"It's good to go out and get this win," Towanda's Austin Markel said. "It means even more getting it on their field after what happened last year."
A season ago it looked like the Black Knights were well on their way to winning the NTL East, but then they began to struggle down the stretch.
The Black Knights struggled on Monday, dropping a home game to Athens, but this year Towanda was able to rebound from bad games.
"Last year we had a really tough end to the season," Sexton said. "We were in control going into the middle of the season, but we didn't finish well at all last year. We had a couple times we didn't play well this year, but we were able to bounce right back.
"This is a tough place to play. In all my years very few games have ended in lopsided scores like this for us, many times we have been on the other end of these games here."
On the mound Nick Place gave the Black Knights five strong innings to get the victory.
"I started off not sharp, I didn't hit my spots the first few innings, but then it got better," Place said.
It's another big game for Place against a good team, coming off a complete-game victory over Canton last week.
For the Black Knights having Place settle in as a strong option on the mound just makes them deeper as they prepare for the postseason.
"We have very deep pitching and it just helps even more to have him step up and do a good job," Markel said.
At the plate Place was intentionally walked three times in the game as the Rams choose to pitch to Markel, who hits behind Place, instead.
"When they did it more than once, I knew I had to get the job done," Markel said.
Markel was getting mad at the fact that the Rams kept choosing to pitch to him over Place.
"It just made me mad," he said. "The first time I didn't feel that bad, Nick's a good hitter. The second time upset me."
And, after the second time Place was intentionally walked Markel made the Rams pay, blasting a home-run over the left field fence.
"It can be frustrating," Place said of being walked. "But, if they keep hitting around me I know they can't do it."
For the Black Knights Monday was one of the worst games they played this year and Friday was one of the better performances of the season.
"Like I said to them as a group, a couple of times this year we didn't play well. Today I thought we played well. I really do think we played one of our better games today. I don't think we made any errors and we pitched well and hit the ball well."
For the Black Knights bringing home a league title this year is special.
"It's my last year and I wanted to win a league title, and I want to win districts and make it to states," Markel said.
"For the underclassmen we know we had to step up and help the seniors out to win this year," Place added.
Markel paced the Towanda offense with a two-hit day, with the home run and a double. He scored a pair of runs and drove in five runs for the Black Knights.
Place drew the three walks and added a double. Cole Sexton scored one run as Place's pinch runner and had a hit in the game and Tye Fowler scored a run as a pinch runner for Place.
Brandon Dinelli had a hit and scored two runs in the game with two RBI and Jared Lines had a hit and scored a run.
Dylan Bates had three hits in the game, two of them doubles, drove in three runs and scored three times for the Black Knights.
Sawyer Strope had a 4-for-5 day with a run scored and an RBI.
Sexton was happy with the way his lineup responded when Wyalusing worked around Place.
"That's the importance of the batting order, if you have a guy like Place who is hot and is building a reputation as a sophomore, you want to have a seasoned hitter like Austin who is having a very good year," Sexton said. "They chose to walk Place and he got him for five RBIs. The one time they walked Markel they had to deal with Strope had he had a 4-for-5 night tonight."
Ethan Barto scored a run, while Mitch Patel had a hit and scored two runs.
Place worked five innings, striking out three, walking one and allowing six hits and two runs. James worked one perfect inning with two strikeouts and Strope pitched one inning, allowing one hit and one walk with one strikeout.
For Wyalusing Kyla Tinna started on the mound and Devin Carr also pitched, with the two combining for four strikeouts.
At the plate Isaac Bennett had a hit and an RBI, Shane Salsman had a hit and scored a run and Andrew Pickett had two hits, with a double, and an RBI.
Carr had a hit in the game and Jordan Salsman had a pair of hits and scored a run for the Rams.