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Baseball Coach Optimistic Going Into Playoffs

Despite the loss of four key players to injury throughout the season, Pennsylvania College of Technology baseball coach Mike Stanzione has his team right where he wants it poised for its 15th straight post-season playoff appearance.

“One of our big goals was to get into the playoffs. We’re fortunate to be there, and I think we have a good chance,” he said.

In Saturday’s Eastern Pennsylvania Collegiate Conference playoffs at Northampton County Community College, the Wildcats (9-7 overall and 6-6 in the league) will face Delaware County Community College (11-1 in the league) at 3 p.m. Stan Bair, a sophomore from Dover High with a 3-1 record, will be on the mound for the ‘Cats.

“If Stan continues to pitch like he has been pitching, I think we have a chance of moving to the championship. It will all boil down to whether we can score some runs,” Stanzione continued. “He’ll probably hold them, but we’re going to have to score at least four runs to win this thing.”

In a regular season meeting against Delaware, Penn College lost by scores of 12-2 and 10-3, but the Wildcat coach isn’t too concerned.

“They beat us handily, but they haven’t seen the guy I’m going to be throwing at them and that’s going to be the big difference, I think,” Stanzione said. “They are very good offensively and play very solid defense. Delaware is a very good team.”

Penn College’s adversity began just before the season started when freshman shortstop Ryan Brelsford, a graduate of Montoursville High School, was sidelined for the spring after being diagnosed with severe tendonitis in his right elbow. Following right behind was starting center fielder Elliott Marchioni, another freshman from Montoursville, who is still recovering from an ankle injury suffered a year ago.

Shortly into the season, freshman pitcher Alex White (Montoursville) left the lineup because of tendonitis in his shoulder, then, two weeks ago, starting second baseman Justin Howe, a sophomore from Williamsport, was sidelined with a hernia pull.

“My roster has gone from 17 to 13. In the games we’ve played, we’ve probably had about 15 different lineups to try and make things work,” Stanzione said. “Luckily, the hard work and dedication of the guys who are still with us paid off, but it’s been tough.”

Helping pick up the offensive slack have been freshman outfielder James Riley (Conestoga Valley), who is hitting .347; sophomore shortstop T.J. Stevens (East Stroudsburg), hitting .318, and Shawn Smith, a freshman from North Pocono, hitting .344.

Two teams, Penn State-Scranton and Lehigh Carbon, both 5-7 in the EPCC, will be squaring off for the fourth playoff spot Friday night at 6 p.m. at Lackawanna County Stadium. The winner of that game will meet Northampton CCC (11-1 in the league) Saturday at 11 a.m. Saturday’s victors then will play for the championship at 1 p.m. Sunday. If Penn College advances to that game, Tim Brown, a freshman from Kennedy Christian with a 3-2 record, will get the nod for mound duty.

The Wildcats still have a regular season doubleheader remaining with Northampton (Wednesday at 1 p.m. at Bowman Field), but Stanzione said both teams will use the game as little more than a tune-up for the weekend playoffs.

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