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Easton baseball missed playing Phillipsburg; winning makes it that much better
May 8, 2021

By Kyle Craig | For lehighvalleylive.com

Getting the chance to play Phillipsburg was extremely important to the Easton Area High School baseball team.

Beating the Stateliners made it that much sweeter.

Easton, ranked No. 5 by lehighvalleylive.com, defeated its rival 6-2 on Friday evening at the Phillipsburg Athletic Complex.

"Playing P'burg is always a great tradition. Because of COVID, we didn't get to play our Easton-P'burg football game and we didn't get to do a lot of traditions that have to do with that – the bonfire and all that," Rovers senior catcher Drew Crossman said. "Being able to add this game to our schedule was a great honor."

"It's tremendous to be able to come here and give these kids an opportunity to play Phillipsburg," Easton coach Carm LaDuca said. "What a good baseball game – a hard-fought game from both sides. But it was just a great feeling to play Phillipsburg again."

Both starting pitchers – Easton's Keegan Stem and Phillipsburg's Matt Garatty – faced the minimum through two innings.

Easton (13-6) broke onto the scoreboard with a three-run top of the third. Junior Ethan Reccek led off the frame with a double and later advanced to third base on an error. Crossman hit an infield single deep into the hole at shortstop to tally the opening run.

Junior Justin Ramirez laced a double down the left field line to put runners on second and third. A passed ball scored courtesy runner Josh Braido, and Max Squarcia pushed the lead to 3-0 with a sacrifice fly.

The Rovers tacked on two more runs in the next inning as Reccek registered a sac fly and Ramirez added an RBI single, making it 5-0.

"A good approach at the plate helped us early on to get a lead. I think that was important, getting an early lead to give us some confidence," LaDuca said.

The Stateliners (1-9) got their first hit off of Stem in the top of the fourth, as Ryan Mottley and Michael Wambold led off with a pair of infield singles. Senior Matt Barna brought both home with a base hit to right field, cutting the deficit to 5-2.

Stem got out of the inning, leaving the bases loaded. He then tight-roped through the fifth, stranding runners on second and third, with a critical strikeout.

Phillipsburg had the bases loaded with no outs in the sixth, but Squarcia, who entered in relief, sandwiched two popups around a strikeout to escape danger.

"We could have gotten in some trouble there," LaDuca said. "(Stem and Squarcia) made some big pitches at big times. We hurt ourselves defensively at a couple of spots, but we were able to get through that."

Crossman was happy to see both Rovers pitchers battle.

"Especially as a catcher, I always love it when I can rely on my pitchers to throw strikes. Keegan did it a few times with runners (in scoring position). He did a great job of not getting in his head, especially since we're both chatty teams," the senior said. "... Same thing with (Squarcia), he did an amazing job of shutting it down with the bases loaded. I'm proud of both of them."

The Stateliners had just four hits, but were a knock from changing the complexion of the game.

"We were one hit away a couple different times," Phillipsburg coach Dylan Sapir said. "... I know I've got good hitters. I see it every day. We just need to find a way to get that big one to break a game open."

Sapir was happy with how his team brushed itself off after suffering through a 16-1 setback at Ridge on Thursday.

"We had a bad day yesterday. It was our worst day and probably my worst day that I've ever had on a baseball field, going back to when I started in tee ball," the coach said. "We went down 5-0 (Friday) and my guys didn't give up. They kept fighting; they showed the heart and the toughness that I know they have. I'm very proud of that effort."

2021 has provided a rugged learning curve for the ‘Liners.

"We just need to learn, situationally, how to play the game a little bit better. I think what you're seeing – for all teams, not just us – is that lost year … You see more mistakes than we're used to seeing at this level," Sapir said. "I have two guys that have played regular varsity time before. Even the older guys are pretty inexperienced."

"Our guys are putting too much pressure on themselves. The younger guys want to prove that they belong; the older guys want to show their leadership; and I think everyone is trying to do a little too much, instead of just relaxing and having fun."

Crossman had a team-high three hits for Easton, to complement a solid game at catcher.

"Drew Crossman has done a super job for us behind the plate all year long. Today, (associate head coach Greg Hess) and I were talking, we thought that was one of the best games he's called all year," LaDuca said. "He made good throws; he had three hits today. You couldn't ask for more. He made some big blocks to save a couple of runs."

Ramirez and Patrick Keegan, a junior, each had a pair of hits for the Rovers, who meet Stroudsburg on Saturday morning before turning to the postseason.

"We're in the front seat," Ramirez said. "We're driving right now and we're going to keep driving."

"We're at a really good spot ... After we were on that losing streak and were on a little bit of a low, we all talked and we decided we were going to start a new season in the second half," Crossman said. "Since the beginning of the second half, we've been undefeated. As long as we can continue our momentum, we're going to be really good for the playoffs."

Rovers Slip by Liberty 7-6
May 1, 2021

By Kyle Craig | lehighvalleylive.com

The moment was tense and Justin Johnson could lift the Easton Area High School baseball team to victory with one swing of the bat.

Or, he could keep it on his shoulder.

The Red Rovers senior was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to cap a six-run comeback as Easton earned a walk-off victory, 7-6, over Liberty in Eastern Pennsylvania Conference Northampton Division action at Richards Field.

It’s the first loss of the season for the Hurricanes, who are ranked No. 1 by lehighvalleylive.com.
v "Battle, fight. First, I had to take a strike and then, anything close, I had to go,” said Johnson, whose HBP sent home senior Max Squarcia to end the game. "There was no holding back. I had to get one run in to win the game. I tried to do my best to get the run in.”

The Rovers (10-6), No. 6 in the rankings, entered the bottom of the seventh inning trailing 6-4. Junior Patrick Keegan got things going with a leadoff single and he was quickly joined on the bases by classmate Justin Ramirez and Squarcia.

Liberty reliever Parker Frey had trouble finding the zone and walked Rovers senior Frank Castrovinci, to bring a run home. Keegan Stem, another senior, worked a 3-0 count before Frey was relieved by Brayden D’Amico.

Stem walked, scoring Ramirez. Johnson worked a full count before being plunked, and the Rovers poured onto the field to celebrate.

"We talked to the kids before the game about the fact that we’d yet to perform very well against an upper-echelon team,” Easton coach Carm LaDuca said.” The goal today was to come out and play passionate baseball. I think we did that. You have to give the kids on both sides a lot of credit for playing a good, hard Liberty-Easton baseball game.”

Johnson, who drove in two runs on Saturday, was happy to contribute, especially considering he started for the Rovers during a 12-1 loss to Liberty on April 13.

"It was definitely a kick in the butt after the first game,” the Coppin State recruit said. "... We knew that they were a good team and we had to score runs in order to beat them. We came out great.”

Easton’s comeback began in the previous frame, when Ramirez opened the bottom of the sixth with a double, followed by an infield single by Squarcia. Johnson provided an RBI single, junior Ethan Reccek tacked on an RBI groundout and Stem scored on a wild pitch to cut Liberty’s advantage to 6-4.

"I thought we had some good at-bats today against some really good pitching,” LaDuca said. "You have to be proud of the kids for an effort like this.”

Liberty (13-1) had an opportunity to break the game open in the top of the sixth, with runners on second and third and one out. Easton junior reliever Jacob Hirner struck a batter out before issuing a walk to load the bases.

The Hurricanes initially thought a fielder’s choice at second, on a ground ball by senior Brandyn D’Amico, was going to push the score to 7-1. The umpire, however, ruled Ramirez, the shortstop, was interfered with while attempting to throw to first, resulting in a double play that ended the inning.

From that moment forward, the action and chatter became a little more contentious.

"We have a tremendous amount of respect for Andy Pitsilos and the Liberty baseball team,” LaDuca said. "That is a very good baseball team over there. They’ve proven that all year long. I’m excited for our kids.”

Liberty, which was averaging 10.6 runs per game entering Saturday, scored a pair in the opening half-inning. Senior Eric Ludwick hit an RBI double off the left field wall and senior Jack Rothenhausler, who started and struck out eight in six innings, added a sacrifice fly.

Two more sacrifice flies, by Brandyn and Brayden D’Amico, and an RBI knock by Derek George, another senior, helped push the lead to 6-1.

Hurricanes coach Andy Pitsilos was disappointed, however, that his lineup didn’t work the count more, which allowed Stem, who started for the Rovers, to post some quick innings.

"We did a lot of uncharacteristic things ... You can’t come in and swing at everything. That was a little undisciplined,” Pitsilos said. "We walked way too many guys today (five). That’s baseball. We give Easton credit. They came back and stayed tough the whole game. They’re well-coached over there; they’re a good team; and we lost the game.”

Easton now enters the final week of the regular season, which includes a fixture with rival Phillipsburg, confident that it can hold its own against the best the area has to offer.

"Our goal now will be to attack each game day-by-day to try to get ourselves into a good position for the league playoffs,” LaDuca said.

"I think we were always capable of beating anybody, but when it came down to it, we haven’t been succeeding,” Johnson said. "But now that we’re putting together better ABs and getting guys on base, we’re seeing better results.”

Spectator Policy for EASD Baseball
March 28, 2021

Spectator Policy for EASD Baseball - Letter, Parents and Supporters of Easton Baseball - Please Read!!!


Online Apparel Store Now Open
March 27, 2021

The Easton Area High School Baseball Program is holding an online apparel sale.

The store opens today March 27th and will close on Friday April 2nd at Midnight.

Click here to access the Online Apparel Store



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    EAHS, Room C111
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  • Next Meeting
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    EAHS, Room C111
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