In transition, Pascack Valley picks up another win

Sophomore Brendan Gaskin had three hits and two RBI out of the No. 9 hole for Pascack Valley, which improved to 4-1 with a 12-2 win over NV/Demarest on Monday..

HILLSDALE – With most of its pitching returning, but with gaping holes in the lineup left by the departure of two All-County sluggers, run support and general youth in the were the question marks heading into this season. Weather has kept the sample size small over the first two weeks, but the glimpses have been good. With a 12-2 win over Northern Valley/Demarest in six innings on Monday, Pascack Valley has hit double digits in all of its wins so far.

Despite having played only four games through the first two weeks, the Panthers are, surprisingly maybe, already humming at the dish

“We’ve actually been swinging the bats pretty well. Trevor [Kirkby] has been off to a good start, we have a catcher [Nick Donofrio] that transferred back from [Don] Bosco. He had a nice double today and was on base a couple of times and [Brendan] Gaskin down at the bottom of the order has been producing. He had three hits against Bosco and three hits today,” said Will Lynch, Pascack Valley’s longtime skipper. “Given opportunities, guys have been doing the right thing, like Justin Kaplan. I gave him a pinch hit and he got a base hit. I gave him another pinch hit he gets another base hit. He as showing me that he wanted to be in the lineup and he was on base four times today, 2-for-3, two runs scored.”

Pascack Valley built a run to take the lead for good in the bottom of the first inning before it really started mashing. Joe Tammaro (2-for-2, RBI, R, 3 BB) led off the Panthers’ first turn at bat with a double down the left field line, went to third on a deep fly ball to centerfield by James Narlinger (0-for-2, 3 RBI) and then scored on a sacrifice fly by Kirkby (2-for-3, RBI, SB).

“Obviously you don’t just replace those two kids [Charlie Saul and Zach Novakowski]. The way they hit, the way there were as teammates, but everybody has to step up, fill the role and do a little bit more. I think we have been doing a good job of doing that so far,” said Kirkby, PV’s junior third baseman. “We have only played five games, but I feel like we have done something different to be successful each time. Today we scored early and got off to a good start.”

Drew Greenberg drove in one of Demarest's two sixth inning runs.

The bottom of the second inning also started with a ringing double, this time by Evan Biener, the only senior in PV’s lineup, before Demarest starter Hugo Gardner got the next two outs. It was the way that the second out played out, however, that had ramifications.

After a getting a called strike three for the first out, Gardner’s right leg got in the path of a sizzling line drive off the bat of Jimmy Shea. The ball made the thud associated with a direct hit just above the right knee. Gardner was able to scramble after the ball, get the out at first and stay in the game after a couple of practice pitches, but he was not as effective thereafter.

The next four PV hitters all reached base safely with Kaplan singling in a run, Gaskin keeping the line moving and Tammaro walking to load the bases. Narlinger drew a walk to force home a run as the Panthers grabbed a 3-0 lead. Then Pascack Valley sent 10 hitters to the plate in the bottom of the third, scored six times and put the game on the precipice of ending early from that point on.

That rally started with a leadoff double for third straight inning, this one by Donofrio and Biener’s chopper over the infield drove in the first run. Gaskin and Tammaro added back-to-back RBI singles and Narlinger’s added a sac fly as PV went up 9-0 after three innings.

Gaskin, who was up on the varsity level as a pitcher only last season, has adapted to his expanded role as the starting leftfielder on the days that he does not pitch. On the days he has so far this season, the left-hander is 2-0 and has yet to allow a run, earned or otherwise.

Andrew Wallace threw 5 1/3 quality innings for Pascack Valley, which impoved to 4-1

“It’s a big step up. I was a pitcher only last year, but I worked hard in the offseason to get a position where I could fit in and help the team. It’s been going well. I am just trying to put the ball in play and anything can happen,” said Gaskin, who will get the start on Tuesday on the road at Teaneck. “I love pitching. It’s been my goal just to pitch on varsity since I was a kid and I am ready for tomorrow. I just want to go out there and throw strikes.”

Andrew Wallace (5 1/3 IP, 2 R, 2 ER, 5 H, 4 K, 2 BB, W) threw plenty of strikes against Demarest. The southpaw allowed just two hits and a walk through the first five innings and needed just 65 pitches over that span, but Demarest freshman right-hander George Theodorakas stymied Pascack Valley, which left the bases loaded in the bottom of the inning when it was just 90 feet from ending the game.

Demarest picked up its two runs in the top of the sixth when Ethan Dai drew a bases loaded walk and Drew Greenberg single in Michael Scalera to make it 9-2, but the bottom of the PV order came through again. It was another leadoff double by Shea that got it rolling and was followed by back-to-back singles again by Kaplan (2-for-3, 3 R, RBI) and Gaskin (3-for-4, R, 2 RBI), who picked up his second RBI. Narlinger made it 11-2 with a sac fly and Kirkby ended it with a one-out single.

The Panthers have yet to get to the meat of their schedule, but they will make up for lost time if the weather holds. This is a five-game week that could give them a better idea of where they stack up in the Bergen County baseball hierarchy.

An offense on the rise currently swinging with confidence and an established rotation that includes JT Deriso, who has also yet to give up a run of any kind, the signs are that PV is going to be pretty good, as per its pedigree.

“We all have to step up and accommodate for the guys that are gone from last year. As a pitcher that means throwing strikes, trusting your defense and you will be good,” said Wallace, who was 7-1 as a starter last season. “I know from previous experience what kind of team Demarest is. They can be dangerous, but I just had to do my job. Throw first pitch strikes, keep the leadoff guy of base and good things will come from it.”

Demarest, which graduated 13 from last year’s team and had just one senior on the field for a few innings on Monday, is battling. The Norsemen are 4-3 heading in the back end of the series on Wednesday in Demarest.”