When the Marian baseball team flipped the calendar from April to May, they also turned the page on their season with a fresh start.
In 13 April games, the Colts were scuffling with a 6-7 record, having scored only 58 runs (an average of 4.5 runs per game).
Since May 1, Marian has scored 59 runs over its last eight games (7.4 runs per contest), en route to a 7-1 finish.
Wednesday afternoon, the Colts' resurgence continued in the District 11 Class A playoffs, as fourth-seeded Marian cruised to a 9-5 quarterfinal victory over fifth-seeded Schuylkill Haven for its sixth straight win.
The wins advances Marian into Friday night's semifinals, where it will take on top-seeded Williams Valley (17-4) at Pine Grove's Stump Stadium at approximately 7:00 p.m.
"It took a team meeting in the beginning of May to pull everybody together and talk about the direction the team was going in. It was up to them to determine how the rest of the season was going to play out," stated Marian head coach Jeff Nietz. "I think they responded by really pulling together these past few weeks and I think we're hitting our peak. We're playing good baseball and I really like where we're at as a team right now."
If Nietz is pleased with the last three weeks, he has to be estactic with how the first three innings of yesterday's game unfolded.
The Colts (13-8) scored all nine of their runs in the first three frames and had 11 of their 12 hits in that span, including four doubles. In addition, Marian was a menace on the base paths, as six of its eight steals occurred in those first three innings.
"A lot of our success depends on our running game," added Nietz. "Getting the guy on, stealing him into scoring position and letting something happen afterward has been how we've won games all year long."
Marian went up 1-0 in the first inning on an RBI single by Peter Baddick that scored Mike Cataldo, who singled to lead off the inning.
The Colts increased their lead to 4-0 in the second inning with four more hits, which chased Schuylkill Haven starting pitcher Nick Behm from the game. A Nick Kweder RBI single scored Eric Swankowski, and Kweder came home on a wild pitch. A KJ Snerr double to deep left then scored Frank Nietz, who doubled in the previous at-bat.
In the third inning, things started really coming apart for the Hurricanes, as Marian sent 11 batters to the plate and added five more runs on four hits to surge ahead 9-0. Anthony Agosti led off the inning with a double, and came around to score on a Schuylkill Haven fielding error. Swankoski then roped a double to left and later scored on a Kweder RBI single. Cataldo plated Swankoski and Kweder with a two-run single to center, and later came around to score when Agosti drew a bases-loaded walk.
"The kids came and played like they practiced last night," noted Nietz. "We emphasized batting for about three hours at last night's practice. They came out today and battled with a lot of two strike counts and put the ball in play."
Marian was held scoreless the rest of the way and was only able to manage one other hit over the next three innings; however, the damage was already done.
"The hole got too deep too fast, and there's no way to get out of it when you're in it that deep," stated Schuylkill Haven head coach Scott Buffington. "We were able to battle back with a few runs over the last couple innings, but we just don't have the kind of offense to fight back from a 9-0 deficit."
Mike Cataldo and Nick Kweder both had two hits, two runs, two RBI and two stolen bases to lead Marian. KJ Snerr and Anthony Agosti also added two hits apiece, while Eric Swankowski tallied two hits and two runs.
For Schuylkill Haven (11-10), designated hitter Zavier Webb had a hit, a run and an RBI in the loss.
Sch. Haven 000 014 0 - 5 7 3
Marian 135 000 x - 9 12 1
Behm, Fanelli (2), Moore (3) and Blugis; Baddick, Kweder (6) and Snerr. W - Baddick. L - Behm.