Pascack Valley stays hot in win over Hackensack

Thursday, May 4, 2017

HILLSDALE – In a battle of two teams heading in opposite directions, Pascack Valley continued its drive toward the top seed in the upcoming Bergen County Tournament, while Hackensack got another look at where it wants to get to as a program.

From warmups until the final pitch, the Indians were locked in and rolled to an 11-1 victory. Now 14-1 on the season, they showed why they are one of the top teams in Bergen County and beyond.

“After the week that we had we finished up last weekend with a couple big wins, that helped us feel real good about ourselves,” said Pascack Valley head coach Will Lynch. “We had Bergenfield Monday, Bergenfield Wednesday and ended up winning the league yesterday, which was really good for us. We put that as one of the first things we wanted to be able to do. We really wanted to put our stamp on something.”

The Indians came out with intensity and jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning with a two-run RBI to center from third baseman Austin Pierkowski. Then, in the second, an RBI single by rightfielder Matt Novakowski, who later left the game with an injury, gave the Indians a 3-0 lead. Pascack Valley never seized control and used that early start in winning this game.

The Comets pushed across a run in the third inning on a RBI single from center fielder Jeff Pena, but that was not enough to get fully back into the game.

Jake Klag turned in an impressive performance on the mound for the Indians, giving up only two hits and one run with strikeouts. He got himself out of a jam with two runners on base in the third and one out, but on a 2-1 count turned an inning ending double play and that seemed to be the turning point in this game.  

“I knew all day I just had to come in and throw strikes and my defense has been great all year. We haven’t had many errors so I knew they would help me out a lot,” said Klag. “I didn’t try overpowering the other team, just tried getting the ball over. I put a lot of trust in my teammates. Whenever I am rattled they come out to talk to me and just help me out. The bats have been really good this year, so I know if I give up a run they will have my back.”

On the other hand, for a young, but talented Hackensack ballclub every game will be used as a building block for the future and the rest of the season. A brutal four-game schedule that saw the Comets take on Ridgewood (13-2) twice, Demarest, a tough team that battles, and Pascack Valley has taken its toll, but also taught some valuable lessons.

“Other than today, we have been playing well, making the plays and pitching well,” said Hackensack head coach Frank DiLorenzo. “We have had seniors step up this week, yesterday we had one of our seniors step up and do a great job. It’s all about building for the future. I start seven underclassmen; the positives are we keep coming back and playing hard for the most part. Telling them every day to beat a top team in the county should be motivation, you shock the county with a win today. This team beat St. Joe’s so we knew if we came in and played hard enough we would shock the county and that shock value motivates the team.”

For the Indians, they are there are a ton of positives for a team that will be playing in the Bergen County Tournament in just over a week, but there is still plenty to work on.

“Everybody that plays high school baseball can catch a pop up, catch the ball, throw it across and make that play. So as long as we do that I think we will be fine, but we still need to understand situations a little better.” said Lynch. “If their up just looking for somebody to hit hard, if their playing back, kid laid down a great bunt and someone said I know you’re looking at the score, but the kid has been struggling lately; getting a bunt down makes you feel better. Those are the things we will continue to still work on.”

Tyler Drakeford is a 2013 graduate of Hackensack High School who is finishing up his Associate Degree at Bergen Community College this spring. This is his first effort as a intern.