Old Forge baseball coach Tony DiMattia didn’t forget what happened at the 2012 District 2 Class A title game last year.
Neither did his players that were coming back from that team, not that DiMattia would let them forget the pain they felt.
“One of our goals was to win the division title and when we came up short, we focused on what was left which was winning the district and getting another shot at Lackawanna Trail,” DiMattia said in an email.
That served as a driving force for the Blue Devils, who not only got their shot at Lackawanna Trail, but avenged last year’s loss to the Lions with a 1-0 victory that catapulted Old Forge on a run to the state semifinals.
“I think the players had some doubts on whether they could beat Lackawanna Trail,” DiMattia said. “Our guys didn’t like how they had to watch another team celebrate a district title and they completely focused on taking the title back.”
With a large bunch of seniors, expectations were high.
“They surpassed all of my expectations,” DiMattia said. “We had a lot of question marks heading into this season and without a doubt they all accepted their roles and bought into our family concept.”
With his team’s eye squarely on the target and its’ identity set, a little dose of confidence was needed. An old nemesis provided a shot that triggered the Blue Devils’ long postseason run.
“I think the moment happened in the second Mid Valley game,” DiMattia said. “We won 8-0, which avenged one of our losses earlier in the season, and we beat a pitcher [Nick Demian] who had beaten us in each of the last two years. From that point forward we were a different team. We now knew we could hang with the teams in our division and we had just put ourselves in position to win a division title.”
As is often the case with baseball teams, pitching was the cornerstone of this outfit, minimizing walks with careful throwing, hitting corners and making the opponent put the ball in play.
“I would have to say our pitching staff was outstanding this season. We had three guys who I would be comfortable running out there at any time in any situation,” DiMattia said. “David Chromey, Derek Drasba and Tyler Cavalari combined for a total of 26 walks all year. That’s why we’re in the position we were in to win games.”
Chromey and Drasba were an effective 1-2 punch for Old Forge, delivering strong performances all season long.
“Chromey won 20 games in his high school career which is unheard of these days with the high school pitching rules [innings limits and mandatory days of rest],” DiMattia said.
“Drasba had his best year both at the plate and on the mound. [He] was rock solid in the middle of our order,” DiMattia said.
Next year will be an entirely different story as graduation will take a toll on the Blue Devils.
“We lose 12 seniors who were unbelievable for three years. We have a lot of positions to fill,” DiMattia said. “The JV [junior varsity] and junior high teams lost two games combined this past year, so we will be young but the talent is there. We always expect to be in contention and next year is no different.
“The standard has been set here at Old Forge and the goals always remain the same.”
One would expect such an attitude from a program that has such a rich tradition like Old Forge has.
The primary starting lineup for Old Forge, which captured the District 2 Class A baseball championship.1. Mike Vieira, 3B2. Matt Mancuso, 2B3. Steve Mascaro, C4. Derek Drasba, RF/P5. David Chromey P/RF6. Brenden Wahl SS7. Robert Donovan 1B8. Warren Welsh DH Jared Heckman LF9. Anthony Piccolini CF