SCRANTON — Abington Heights shortstop Jimmy Fayocavitz is developing a knack for coming up with key hits in critical games for the Comets.
Nine days after clinching the District 2 title with walk-off single against Valley View, the senior delivered another walk-off hit in the bottom of the seventh inning to give Abington Heights a 1-0 win over Jersey Shore in the first round of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class 3A baseball playoffs Wednesday, June 3 at Marywood University.
Comets first baseman Matt McDonald lined a double to right-center field to begin the inning and designated hitter Zach Manasek executed a well-placed sacrifice bunt to set up Fayocavitz’s heroics.
“I knew we didn’t have that many baserunners and I knew I had great hitters (coming up) behind me,” McDonald said. “I said to myself, ‘I just have to get on base somehow. I saw a pitch up a little bit and just tried to drive it.’
“(You can) always rely on Fayo,” McDonald added. “We have great confidence in him. Once Zach (Manasek) laid down a great bunt and got me to third, I knew we were going to win this game.”
Abington Heights starting pitcher Tyler Ksiazek, who is committed to Division 1 Monmouth University, worked out of jams through the game to pick up the win on the mound.
Jersey Shore had runners on first and third base in the top of the first inning, but Ksiazek got Bulldogs cleanup hitter Zach Miller to ground into a double play to end the threat.
“I was just trying to come back and throw strikes,” Ksiazek said. “I know we have a good defense behind me. I was just trying to come through and let them make the plays.”
Ksiazek allowed two more baserunners in the top of the second, but got Boone Costa to pop out. In the top of the third, after Bulldogs leadoff hitter Eric Huling singled and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, Abington Heights right fielder Peter Nolan caught a fly ball hit by Brody Smith and threw out Huling trying to advance to third base to end the inning.
In the top of the fifth inning, Ksiazek allowed a single and walk before third baseman Sam Arnold made the final out of the inning by scooping up a ground ball and touching third base.
Ksiazek allowed two singles in the sixth, but came up with his fourth strikeout to keep the game scoreless.
“They had their leadoff man on base in five of the seven innings,” Abington Heights head coach Bill Zalewski said. “He pitched out of jams and threw quality pitches when he had to, that’s what he’s been doing for us all year.”
Jersey Shore head coach Steve Waldman had high praise for the Comets following his team’s loss.
“They’re a good team,” Waldman said. “I told the kids, ‘they’re going to be the state champions because I think the two best teams played here today.’”
Abington Heights will play Manheim Central on Thursday, June 4 at 4 p.m. at Wenger Field in Fredericksburg for a chance to advance to the state semifinals.
“We just need to keep playing our game and see what happens,” Ksiazek said.