In a season in which Panther Valley and Jim Thorpe's baseball teams have struggled to score, runs were in abundance in their Schuylkill League contest Friday afternoon.
The Panthers got on the board early and often, as they scored ten runs in the first three innings en route to a 13-6 win over the Olympians. Panther Valley took advantage of some shaky pitching early on, along with some mental errors in the field by Jim Thorpe, to start its second half of the season on the right foot.
"I told the kids that it would be big to come out and score in the first inning," said Panther Valley manager John Cooper. "I know the longer (Jim Thorpe) stayed in the game the more dangerous they would become. I felt that if we could get the jump on them early we might be able to get them down, but to their credit they battled back like they always do.
"I liked the way we came out. We were selective, but when we got pitches to hit we hit the ball hard and ran the bases well. It was nice to put six on the board and help our pitcher out."
Dane Ciavarella took the hill for the Olympians and had a rocky first inning to say the least. He allowed the first two batters to reach base via a single and a walk before Panther Valley's Nick McArdle got the scoring started with a RBI-single. After a walk sandwiched by two strikeouts, Ciavarella then hit Luke Stano to force home a run. Nate Krebik and Jake Szczecina followed with two singles to plate three more runs.
The Panthers scored one in the second when Mark Williams scored on a throwing error. They would tack on three more in the third on a two RBI-single from McArdle and a RBI groundout from Jake Gulla to chase Ciavarella from the game.
"We came out strong and were able to get some runs early," said McArdle, who finished the day 4-for-5 with three RBIs, three runs scored and two stolen bases. "We let the lead slip away, but were able to hold on to get the win. It is definitely the best game we have played so far."
Meanwhile, Panthers' starter Luke Stano began the day on fire. He retired the first 11 batters he faced before allowing a triple to Ciavarella in the fourth. The lefty would then face some major trouble in the fifth when he allowed six runs on five hits.
"Early on he had both pitches working," Cooper said. "He was throwing the curveball for strikes and when he does that he becomes very confident and he will cruise.
"In that inning when they jumped back in on us, I think we counted that all of their hits came off the fastball. I think it was him getting behind in the count, perhaps getting a little tired because this is the deepest he has gone, and wasn't getting the curveball over. But I think he showed a lot of guts and determination to get out of it and finish the game."
The game looked bleak for Jim Thorpe up until the fifth, but quickly got back into the game. Mitchell Peters, Christian Gavornick, Justin Kaminski, Pat Duvigneuad and Ian Sterling all reached base and picked up RBIs in the inning.
"I think we got a little confidence from our second pitcher (Sterling)," said Jim Thorpe manager Gary Heydt. "He was strong in relief and it fed into the inning.
"It has been like this all year though. The guys get behind and then they have a spurt, but there is a time where we seem to fall apart. I don't necessarily think we totally fell apart today. I just think Panther Valley hit the ball and it seemed like everything went their way."
Panther Valley would score two insurance runs in the seventh to keep Jim Thorpe at a distance.
Thad Ogozalek (2-for-4) and Zack King (2-for-3) each had at least two hits and two runs scored for the Panthers. Hrebik and Williams had two RBIs apiece.
"It's nice," said Cooper on the win. "This is our 11th game of the season. I told the kids this is the second half of the year and let's start fresh. Let's do things right in the second half that we didn't do right in the first half. Hopefully we can turn things around and still make it a respectable year."
Panther Vy. 613 010 2 – 13 11 3
Jim Thorpe 000 060 0 – 6 6 2
Stano and Black; Ciavarella, Sterling (4) and Montanaro, Snisky (4). W – Stano. L – Ciavarella.