Tri-Valley stars start strong

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HEGINS - It's not always easy for a team to defend a championship from the previous season.

Especially in Little League Baseball because last year's 12-year-olds graduate to Teener ball.

Tri-Valley got off to a good start defending its title with a 14-2 rout over Pine Grove/Tremont on the opening night of the District 24 11-12-year-old Little League Tournament.

The home team banged out 12 hits and used the pitching of Ashton Buchanan and Dawson Schwalm to limit Pine Grove/Tremont to only three hits. Buchanan struck out 10 in the Pool 4 victory on June 23.

"We have the same attitude as last year. Our kids want to go in there and battle," Tri-Valley manager Brent Smith said. "We intend to hit the ball, and our kids did that beautiful tonight. We had line drive after line drive. The kids know the strike zone very well."

Tri-Valley took the lead for good with two runs in the top of the first inning on an RBI single by Nick Parobek and a bases-loaded walk by Brayden Smith.

Pine Grove/Tremont cut the deficit to 2-1 in the bottom of the first when Dillion Kintzel doubled home leadoff hitter Dawson Ibarra, who led off with a walk.

Tri-Valley effectively took control with a three-run third inning to open a 5-1 lead. Smith had an RBI single and Ryan Carter added a two-run single.

Pine Grove/Tremont starting pitcher Mike Bertasavage reached his pitch limit in the third inning and was replaced by Ibarra.

Tri-Valley tacked on two more runs in the top of the fifth when Schwalm doubled home a run and later scored from third base on a wild pitch.

Meanwhile, Pine Grove/Tremont could not mount much offense against Tri-Valley pitching, despite scoring a second run in the bottom of the fifth inning when Nate Wolff drove in a run on a groundout.

Pine Grove manager Chris Culbert felt that his team was taking too many pitches and not being aggressive enough at the plate.

"In practice, we hit the ball well," Culbert said. "Tonight, we were watching too many good strikes go by. We were taking borderline pitches. Maybe if we swing the bats, we put the ball in play and make things happen."

Tri-Valley turned the game into a rout with a seven-run outburst in the top of the sixth inning, which included two-run singles by Hunter Dietrich and Buchanan, and an RBI single by Kolt Schaeffer.

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