Last night, the Panther Valley baseball team went "streaking"....again!
Although no clothing was removed, the Panthers continued to remove the taste of a five-game losing streak, with a 10-2 non-league victory over Marian.
After starting the season with five straight wins, the Panthers dropped five in a row to even their record at .500. However, they righted the ship with a win over North Schuylkill last week and yesterday's victory over the Colts extended their current winning steak to four games.
Even more importantly, the Panthers (9-5, 3-5) are now just one win away from clinching a District 11 playoff berth, something that can be attained later this afternoon with a victory over Tamaqua.
"It's been a season of streaks, that's for sure," noted Panther Valley head coach John Cooper. "When we hit the ball and limit our strikeouts, we're a good team. We have good team speed and when we put the ball in play, we keep a lot of pressure on the defense, which is what we did today."
After heavy rains and a soggy field delayed the start of the game by 35 minutes, Marian needed all of five minutes to put the first runs on the scoreboard.
Following a Panthers error and walk, Drew Sherkness cranked an RBI-double to center field, which allowed Mark Stawick to score. Brandon Dopira's fielder's choice groundout brought Jim Stavinski home and Marian held a 2-0 lead after the first inning.
With two outs in the bottom of the second, Panther Valley tied the game when number nine hitter Brandon Gurka plated David Marouchoc and Ryan Poeldnurk with a two-run double that caromed off the left field fence. The Panthers then scored the go-ahead run when Casey Lawrence brought home Gurka with an RBI-single to center field.
"I think they might have been a little sluggish to start the game, but the delay could have had something to do with that," added Cooper. "Our kids and our assistant coaches worked their tails off for a good hour or two before the game just to get the field in playing condition. They did a tremendous job and I'm especially proud of the way they bounced back and responded.
The Panthers added another run in the third inning off a Greg Pecha RBI double and extended the lead to 5-2 with a Zack Stanko fielder's choice groundout in the fifth.
Panther Valley then took control of the game in the bottom of the sixth inning when the Panthers scored five more runs on four hits to build a 10-2 lead. Gurka started the scoring with an RBI-single and Kyle McAvoy's finished the Colts off with a two-run bases-loaded single.
"I thought we played well in the first inning and we did the things we needed to do. After that, (Panthers pitcher) Greg Pecha completely owned us," stated Marian head coach Jeff Nietz. "He kept us off-balance and he had us baffled all day. When he threw the fastball, we were swinging at air, and when he threw the curveball, we were watching it go by."
With the loss, Marian falls to 9-4 on the year (8-2 league). In the Colts' 9 wins, they've allowed just 12 runs; however, in their four losses, they've been outscored 44-9.
Marian also had to play yesterday's game without Joe Kloap, one of the team's better players. Kloap, Marian's leadoff hitter as well as a top fielder and pitcher, was a sponsor at his sister's confirmation.
"Joe is such an integral part of this team, but he was where he needed to be today," noted Nietz. "I'm not making excuses though because good teams find ways to adapt and make adjustments. Unfortunately, that's something that we've really struggled with this season."
For Panther Valley, Kyle McAvoy was 3-for-3 at the plate with three runs scored, two RBI and two stolen bases. Brandon Gurka also added two hits, two runs and two RBI. Greg Pecha picked up the mound win, while striking out six.
Marian was led by Damian Gallagher's three hits, while Sherkness was tagged with the loss.
Marian 200 000 0 - 2 7 3
Panther Vy. 031 015 x - 10 12 2
Sherkness, Stavinski (6) and Stawick; Pecha and Marouchoc. W - Pecha. L - Sherkness.