Heading into Tuesday's Schuylkill League baseball game between Tamaqua and Jim Thorpe, most fans had to figure the perennially tough Blue Raiders would win in a cakewalk.
If Vegas was involved, the odds would be stacked against the host Olympians, who entered with a record of 0-9.
Tamaqua eventually pulled out the win, but it turned out to be a lot closer than most people anticipated.
The Raiders held off a late Jim Thorpe rally to post a 9-8 victory.
One person who never expected anything less than a tough battle from Olympians was Tamaqua coach Jeff Reading.
"I knew they were going to be hungry for a win," said Reading. "Everyone that doesn't have one at this point of the season is definitely going to try everything they can to get that first win, and they did."
Early in the game, it looked like Tamaqua was going to have its way as the Raiders jumped out to a 5-1 lead after two and a half innings.
Jim Thorpe quickly showed it wasn't going down without a fight as it cut the lead to 5-4 after four frames.
A huge four-run sixth gave Tamaqua what looked liked a very comfortable 9-4 lead.
That comfort level quickly evaporated.
Two runs by Jim Thorpe in both the sixth and seventh inning made thing interesting.
In the bottom of the seventh, there were two outs with Tamaqua holding a 9-6 lead. However, back-to-back singles by Justin Kaminski and Sean Green gave the Olympians hope. Dan Ciavarella followed with a grounder, that seemed to be a routine out. But an awkward bounce led to an error, scoring two runs with Ciavarella at first and Mike Hickey at the plate. Hickey got a hold of a ball and drove it to deep center but it turned into a long out and Tamaqua hung on for the win.
"We had a shot at it with that deep fly to center, but unfortunately, things didn't work out," Jim Thorpe coach Gary Heydt said. "But I think the kids are coming together and starting to understand the game better and that showed tonight."
With schedules backing up for teams all over the area due to Mother Nature's failure in obedience, teams are feeling the effects of doubleheaders and games each day of the week.
"Not to take anything away from our kids' efforts today at all, but with a doubleheader yesterday, one game today and another tomorrow, our pitching staff wasn't the strongest we have to offer," said Reading. "But our kids did a great job today and responded well to the pressure. Give a lot of credit to Jim Thorpe as well because they put the ball in play."
For Tamaqua (6-5 overall, 3-4 in the league), Mike Toth was 2-for-2, with a two-run triple and three RBIs. Ryan Palsgrove was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and Matt Roberts was 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
Jim Thorpe got big games at the plate from Justin Kaminski, who finished 3-for-5 with three runs scored and two stolen bases while teammate Dane Ciavarella was 2-for-5 with two RBIs and three stolen bases.
"We left a lot of guys on base today and everyone knows we're a young team," Heydt admitted. "But there have been some bright spots lately for us and I think today, we definitely earned some respect, because they had their hands full."
Tamaqua 014 004 0 - 9 9 3
Jim Thorpe 012 102 2 - 8 11 1
Nicholls, Rottet (5) and Roberts; Hickey, Green (6) and Duvingneaud. W - Nicholls, L - Hickey.