Meteors advance in AA playoffs

Montrose’s Mike Hackett slides safely into third while Mountain View third baseman Nate Goodenough tries to apply the tag in the Meteors’ 3-2 win over the Eagles in the Class AA playoffs on Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN WOODRUFF

BY CONOR FOLEY

Times-Shamrock Writer

By his own admission, Montrose’s Mike Rapisardi wasn’t in a good place in the batter’s box.

The left-handed slugger, who led the Lackawanna League DivisionIIIin batting average, runs batted in and hits, had to faceMountain Viewsouthpaw starter Mike Wakalowski in Thursday’s District 2 Class AA quarterfinal.

“I’m not used to left-handers, I’m not going to lie,” Rapisardi said. “I was more focused on pitching than hitting tonight.”

Though he had only a single in the game, Rapisardi matched Wakalowski’s strong start with one of his own, Nick Myers drove home two runs, and second-seeded Montrose edged No. 7 Mountain View, 3-2.

Going inning-for-inning with Wakalowski wasn’t the easiest task either.

The lefty held Montrose (16-0) to four hits while striking out seven. He did not allow an earned run and, outside of the first inning, kept the Meteors off the scoreboard with some help from his stellar defense.

“You can’t take anything away from Wakalowski,”Mountain View(9-7) coach Ryan McAndrew said. “He just put the best team in the area in my opinion, pretty much put them to rest. He pitched well enough to win, we just didn’t give him the support.”

But Rapisardi and his teammates were up for the battle.

Rapisardi struck out seven and allowed one earned run over his complete game performance.

“(Rapisardi) all year has been our go-to guy for the big games,” Montrose coach Ryan Soden said. “He just has that fierce, competitive drive that, if I wanted to take him out of the game, he wouldn’t have let me.”

Myers and the Meteors offense helped give Rapisardi an early cushion by plating three runs in the first inning.

With one out, Dale Harder started the rally by working a walk and then stealing second base before Casey O’Reilly was hit by a pitch. Rapisardi then reached on an error to load the bases.

After Wakalowski struck out the next hitter, Michael Hackett took a 3-2 pitch for a ball to bring home the game’s first run.

Myers followed by lining a single to right field that scored two more.

“You see the bases loaded, and I know I just had to get the bat on the ball and get it in play,” Myers said. “I did, and scored it two runs, so I was happy about it.”

Mountain Viewbounced back in the third inning, when Dylan Thomas drove Owen Flannery home with a sharp single to right, and would cut the deficit to one run in the fifth inning when Thomas doubled to score Colby Thomas, who had tripled with two outs in the inning.

But that was as close as Mountatin View would get, as Rapisardi struck out the side in the sixth inning and worked around a two-out double by Colby Thomas in the seventh.

“The toughest thing to do is beat a team three times, especially these guys, because they are good,” Soden said. “They have a lot of talent on their team, and they always come up in big situations.”

Though Montrose has yet to be beaten this season, the team is no stranger to close games. Six of the Meteors’ wins came in games decided by three runs or fewer, with two more decided by four runs.

“Those close games throughout the year, it taught these guys not to panic, not to play in a hurry,” Soden said. “They relaxed, they knew they could do it.”

Montrose advances to host sixth-seeded Holy Cross, which beatCarbondale, 9-2.

“We’re by no means done. These guys have one goal in mind, and that is six more games to get to the state championship. That’s all they want.”

Earlier in the week, Montrose Area baseball team handed GAR Memorial an 11-1 loss at home on Tuesday in the first round of District II Class AA playoff action.

GAR would score its only run in the top of the first before Montrose scored two in the first, seven in the third and two more in the fifth to take the mercy rule victory.

Matt Lewis went three-for-three with a double and three RBIs. Mike Rapisardi had two hits and two RBIs and Matt Sobiech drove in two runs to lead the second-seeded Meteors.

Casey O’Reilly knocked a triple, a single and drove in a pair of runs for the Meteors while Justin Hartman had a single and drove in a pair of runs.

Jared Winn took the mound victory giving up five hits, one run and no walks while striking out one in three innings on the mound.