Early Monday morning, Tamaqua head baseball coach Jeff Reading thought it was going to be yet another day of practice in the high school gym.
Instead, thanks to the hard working grounds crew, the Blue Raiders were finally able to open Schuylkill League Division I play against Panther Valley.
"There was no way I felt we were playing at eight o'clock this morning," Reading said. "I have to give kudos to our maintenance crew here as they spent all day working on this field.
"We spent the last week in the gym, so to get out here was just great."
While it was a week since they played an actual game, the Blue Raiders didn't disappoint their coach at all as they stepped off the diamond with a 9-0 win over the Panthers.
"The kids were really excited to be playing ball and to just be able to be on the field again," Reading said. "I'm really pleased with what they did on the field, too. They put the ball in play. They made some things happen by putting the ball in play. And Michael (Streisel) threw a great game."
After Streisel surrendered a lead-off double to Brandon Gurka, the senior stranded Gurka at third base by eventually striking out the next two batters and got Stephen Gulla to ground into a fielder's choice to end the inning.
The hosts responded in the bottom half by giving the senior right-hander some early run support. Ryan Palsgrove's RBI single and Luke Matsago's two-run single put the Raiders on top 3-0.
After the Panthers stranded another runner (Thad Ogozalek, who led off the second with a single) at third in the top of the second, the Raiders added an insurance run.
The Blue Raiders' lead-off man Derek Linkhorst collected his second hit of the day by leading off with a single. Linkhorst stole second and was able to cross home plate on a throwing error by the Panthers, giving the Blue Raiders a 4-0 lead.
After Thad Ogozalek relieved Zach Stanko in the second for the Panthers, he was able to keep the Tamaqua bats silent for a few innings. That was until Luke Matsago crushed a solo homer over the centerfield fence to start the fifth frame.
After Matsago collected his second hit and third RBI of the game, it more than helped Streisel cruise towards a complete game four-hit shutout.
"It's always good to have almost double digit hits and nine runs," said Streisel, who finished with nine strikeouts, one walk and one hit batsman. "It's always nice to have some offense behind you. It makes you feel good.
"It helped me out a lot, have some more confidence, which helps me finish all seven innings."
The Blue Raiders helped build Streisel's confidence even more with four more runs in the sixth. Streisel helped himself with an RBI-single, while pinch-hitter Jackson George drilled a two-run double with two outs.
For the Panthers however, they'll simply move on from this after seeing their first game on grass rather than practicing on the hardwood.
"They're a real good group of kids," Panther Valley manager John Cooper said. "They don't like to lose. Like I said to them, it's only game two of the season. So it wasn't going to make or break us either way and there's no better practice than coming out and playing a game and doing the things you have to do.
"They'll learn. They're going to understand to have better at-bats next time. They were facing a quality pitcher. I think they will bounce back from it."
Panther Vy. 000 000 0 - 0 4 2
Tamaqua 310 014 x - 9 9 1
Stanko, Ogozalek (2), Gurka (6) and Marouchoc; Streisel and Roberts, George. W - Streisel. L - Stanko. HR: Tamaqua - Matsago (5th, none on).