It wasn't pretty and it didn't come easy, but the Marian Colts baseball squad got the job done against Schuylkill League Division foe Mahanoy Area on Thursday afternoon.
An Anthony Pilla solo home run in the fourth inning gave Marian some breathing room and solid pitching from Brendan McGowan and Mike Cataldo helped the Colts to gain the 5-1 victory.
The Colt's starting pitcher McGowan, who was on the mound for the first time in two years gave up a solo home run to Mahanoy's Jake Holman in the the top of the first. McGowan settled down from then on and was able to pitch four solid innings. He gave up just three hits after the Holman homer and struck out five.
"Brendan did a great job for us today," said Marian head coach Jeff Nietz. "This the first time he pitched for us in two years so we were interested to see how he was going to perform. He hung in there and battled all day."
A good defensive effort when a team is struggling to score runs is an important trait for a team to have in the game of baseball.
The Mahanoy offense may not have hit the ball well, but they certainly did a good job of getting on base. The Bears managed to get 15 players on base and had some opportunities to score some runs.
However, the Colts defense was terrific all afternoon and consistently held base runners on all game long.
"Our defense really bailed us out today," said Nietz. "In all my years of coaching at Marian I don't think I've seen that many double plays in one game. When you're struggling to score, your defense has to come through and I think they did a good job of backing up our pitchers. Mahanoy got a lot of base runners on and to our guys credit we only let up one run."
Anthony Pilla's home run in the fourth inning looked to be the play that gave the Colts the spark they needed to finish off the Bears. Pilla took a fastball from Mahanoy pitcher Vinny Bloss over the left center field fence to give Marian a 3-1 advantage at the time.
"I hit the ball pretty hard to center my first time up so I felt good," said Pilla. "It was a 3-1 count and coach gave me the green light to go after it if it was in my zone. I liked where the pitch was and I got a hold of it."
The Colt's Mikey Cataldo, who was the only Marian player with multiple hits had an RBI and also came in the fifth to relieve McGowan. Cataldo made the game interesting a couple of times walking five batters in his three innings of work walking five, but only allowed two hits and didn't allow a run. The most interesting moment of Cataldo's time on the hill came in the top of the seventh with bases loaded and only one out. Cataldo settled down and worked through the jam getting The Bears' Matt Kimmel to foul out and then struck out Pat Boyle to get the save for the Colts.
"We knew coming in we had to get a win today over a division opponent," said Cataldo. "I knew when I got in trouble in the seventh I had to stay calm and hit my spots so that's what I did. Once I calmed down I just put the ball where it had to be and we got the win."
Dylan Latham also had a single and two RBI's to help the Colts.
Mahanoy 100 000 0 - 1 5 3
Marian 101 111 X - 5 7 2
Bloss, Miller (6), and Richmond; McGowan, Cataldo (5), and Kosar; W - McGowan. L - Bloss; HR: Mahanoy - Holman (1st, none on); Marian - Pilla (4th, none on).