Pascack Valley Secures Sectional Championship with Shutout Win Over Lakeland

photo by: Ella Eitner
As spectators filled the stands at Lakeland High School, the anticipation was palpable for what was expected to be a closely contested sectional final. Pascack Valley, led by their ace JT Deriso, was ready to make a statement against a strong Lakeland team.

The game started off with both teams showing strong pitching performances. Lakeland pitcher, Matt Nicholson set the tone shutting down all three batters.  Pascack Valley’s pitcher, JT Deriso, answered back, completing a 1-2-3 inning of his own. This initial show of strength was a sign of things to come, as Deriso would continue to dominate the mound throughout the game.

The scoring began in the second inning when Trevor Kirkby stepped up for Pascack Valley, hitting a solo home run that broke the scoreless tie. This early run gave Pascack Valley the momentum and put pressure on Lakeland to respond. For the next two innings, both teams locked in on defense, and both pitchers were on fire. Nicolson tallied 6Ks through the 4th innings while Deriso was in tact for a no hitter. 

However the top of the 5th would end this pitching duel. Both JJ Kaplan and Nick Donofrio drove in runs for the Panthers to take the 3-0 lead and ultimately taking Nicolson off of the rubber. In the top of the sixth inning, Pascango Valley's offense came alive again. Brendan Gaskin hit an RBI double that scored Evan Biener, further extending their lead. This hit was part of a rally that saw Pascack Valley score multiple runs to secure a comfortable lead.

Heading into the last inning with a 4-0 lead, Pascack Valley was in complete control. Deriso continued his excellence, closing out the game and confirming Pascack Valley's championship victory. His complete game shutout was more than enough to bring a sectional title back to the Valley. 

Pascack Valley advance to the Group 2 tournament where they will meet with Caldwell on Wednesday to determine who competes for a State title.