Countless aspects of the game of baseball come into play throughout the course of seven innings every time a team takes the field. However, in last night's Keystone Senior Babe Ruth League match-up between the Panther Valley Black Diamonds and the Franklin Township Shockers, one of the lesser-known aspects proved to be the difference: familiarity.
The continued know-how between PV's pitcher Zach Stanko and catcher David Marouchoc trumped the bats of the Shockers at paramount times, as the hosts pulled out a 9-4 win and improved their record to 3-1 on the young season.
"Dave's a really good catcher and we've been playing together since fourth grade," winning pitcher Zach Stanko reminisced. "He just knows the right pitches to call and I was on tonight and I think that was the difference."
There were two pivotal moments in the game that could have proven to spell certain doom for the Black Diamonds, had it not been for Stanko's crucial delivery.
The first came in the top of the fourth, where PV held a slim 3-1 edge. The Shockers' Alex Storm drew a rare walk, Joe Oriel singled and PV's sole error loaded the bases with one out. Stanko, however, delivered a one-two knockout combination of two strikeouts to suck the wind out of Franklin Township's sails and the winners tacked on another insurance run in the bottom of that inning.
"Zach just pitched a stellar game tonight for us," PV coach Chris West commended. Stanko struck out ten batters on the night.
"(David) Marouchoc calls games so well and that was just another instance of that. We let the catchers call the games because we have faith in their abilities and (Marouchoc) is an example of that."
The other instance was in the fifth inning, as both teams' offenses erupted. Franklin Township cut into the deficit in the top of the fifth, as they tacked on two runs to cut it to 4-3. However the PV 'sticks' had an eruption of their own, as they batted through their lineup, producing five runs to provide the victors with their insurmountable lead.
That was where Stanko took command of his pitches and demanded attention, limiting his team's opponent to no hits in the top of the sixth, before giving way to reliever, David Vidzicki.
"I think tonight was a good example of what we've been trying to get out of our players in being disciplined with the bats," West mentioned. "But we also told them that the game's not over until the seventh inning and they responded because tonight, we saw that there is no quit in these kids and this is a pattern we've been seeing this season so far."
With the loss, Franklin Township falls to 1-3.
"It was a tough game for us tonight," FT coach Donnie Rehrig admitted. "I thought we played okay but we had some mental lapses and that's because, I think, it's hard to get enough practice time during the summer. But I thought both teams played well tonight."
Overall, for the winners, Greg Pecha had a home run and a double with two RBI. Teammate Brandon Gurka had two hits, two RBIs and a stolen base, while Marouchoc helped out on the offensive end with a two-RBI double in the crucial fifth.
For Franklin, Alex Storm had a triple and a double with three RBI, while teammate Matt Schaeffer had two singles in the losing effort.
FT Shockers 100 020 1 - 4 5 1
PV Black Diamonds 012 150 x - 9 9 1
Storm, A. Rossino (5) and Farole; Stanko, Vidzicki (7) and Marouchoc. WP - Stanko, LP - Storm. HR: PV - Pecha (2nd, none on).