Honesdale Baseball Team Lackawanna League Champions

Article Courtesy of Kevin Edwards
Tri-County Independent

DUNMORE — After more than two decades, the long wait is finally over.

On Thursday afternoon, Honesdale used a potent combination of power pitching, dazzling defense and heavy hitting to defeat Old Forge in a special one-game playoff for the 2023 Lackawanna League Division II title.

The much-anticipated showdown took place at Schautz Stadium in Dunmore and featured clutch performances from the likes of Joseph Curreri, Nate Hugaboom and Trent Gombita.

“What a great night for Honesdale baseball! exclaimed head coach Ernie Griffis. “After waiting 22 years, I think it really means a lot, not only to the program but the local baseball community as well.

With this impressive 15-0 Mercy Rule triumph, the Hornets not only claimed the division crown, but also sealed the deal on a top seed in the District 2 tournament.

Weather permitting, this year’s edition of the event will begin Wednesday with the Red & Black hosting eighth seeded Berwick at the Daniel J. O’Neill Sports Complex.

First pitch for this opening round Class 4A battle is slated for 4:30 p.m. at Keith Sutton Memorial Field.

Honesdale came out with guns blazing Thursday versus Old Forge.

After Curreri set the Devils down 1-2-3 in the top of the first, the Hornets unleashed an overpowering offensive assault in the home half of the frame.

Hugaboom greeted Old Forge starter Ryan Kissolovege rudely, roping a lead-off double to right center. Two batters later, Trent Gombita strode to the plate and quickly put the Hornets on the board.

The senior slugger got down in the count 0-2, but pounced on a Kissolovege curveball and hammered it over the right field fence. Gombita’s towering two-run homer gave Honesdale a lead it never relinquished.

“He threw me a first pitch curveball for a strike, then another one that was high and I took a bad swing and fouled it off,” Trent said. “As soon as I took that swing, I was thinking to myself that he’s going to throw me three straight curves.

“And as soon as I saw it out of his hand, my eyes just lit up. I turned on it and as soon as that ball hit the bat, it was flying out of the stadium.”

Gombita’s moonshot stunned the Old Forge faithful and opened the floodgates for Honesdale’s offense. The Hornets scored three more runs in the first, then exploded for 10 in the bottom of the fourth.

Hugaboom played a key role in the Red & Black attack. The senior shortstop put on an impressive power display of his own, going 2-for-3 with a walk, three runs scored and a pair of RBIs.

“Nate may be swinging the hottest bat in all of District 2 right now,” said Coach Griffis. “When he goes, we go … and he’s been doing it consistently over the last six games. Along with being hot at the plate, Nate has made some great plays at short too.”

The highlight of Hugaboom’s day came leading off the top of the fourth. He took the first pitch off the plate for a ball, then jumped on Kissolovege’s next offering and smoked it over the fence in right.

Hugaboom’s solo opposite field homer set off an offensive chain reaction that didn’t end until the Hornets had scored 10 runs and closed out a 15-0 Mercy Rule rout.

“We showed up looking for revenge since they beat us last time,” Nate said. “We were pretty locked in. As for the homer, it was definitely awesome and something to look back on when I’m older.”

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