Scoring runs has been hard to come by for the Tamaqua baseball team this season.
Getting wins has been even harder.
Wednesday afternoon, however, all it took was one run for the Blue Raiders to secure their first win of the season with a 1-0 Schuylkill League Division 1 victory over Jim Thorpe.
After being shutout in three of its first four contests and averaging just 1.2 runs per game, the victory was a welcomed relief for Tamaqua head coach Jeff Reading.
"When you're struggling to score runs, it's the little things that can make the difference in winning or losing a ballgame, and that's exactly how it played out today. The game was a pitcher's duel and whether we score one run or 10 runs, a win's a win and we'll take it any way we can get it."
Things didn't exactly start out the way Tamaqua expected, as the first two Jim Thorpe batters reached base on back-to-back fielding errors. The runners then advanced to second and third base on a wild pitch. However, the Raiders got out of the jam as freshman pitcher Brett Kosciolek retired the Olympians' heart of the order (3-4-5 batters) by striking out the side.
"Any team that gets its first two runners on base needs to at least be able to get a run out of it. We didn't capitalize and that's very disappointing," stated Jim Thorpe head coach Gary Heydt. "I knew coming into this game that we matched up well against Tamaqua, I had a feeling that the first team to score was likely going to win this game and I even thought it could be a 1-0 game. Sure enough, that's exactly what happened."
After the first two Olympians reached base, Kosciolek struck out seven of the next eight batters before Jim Thorpe got it's lone hit of the game (a single to left by Patrick Duvigneaud).
The freshman left-hander was in complete control the entire game, striking out 13 batters, while allowing only four runners to reach base (via three fielding errors and one hit).
"Brett was on his game today," added Reading. "The way he was able to get us out of that first inning was big. He certainly doesn't act like a freshman. He doesn't get excited and he doesn't let things bother him. He's just a smart baseball player that goes out there and does what he needs to do."
Tamaqua (1-4, 1-1) had runners in scoring position in each of the first three innings, but each time they were unable to capitalize.
The Raiders finally were able to pull through in the bottom of the sixth inning. Bo Rottet reached base on a Jim Thorpe throwing error. Ian Nicholls then laid down his second sacrifice bunt of the game. On the throw to first, Travis Miller, running for Rottet, attempted to advance to third base. The throw from first to third was off the mark and sailed out of play, which allowed Miller to score the game's only run.
"Going into that inning, we needed one run," touted Reading. "We got a bunt and I saw their third baseman wasn't paying attention so I waved Travis (Miller) around to third. It made them make a throw, which went out of play and allowed us to score."
With a 1-0 lead in the top of the seventh inning, Kosciolek struck out Ian Sterling, but Colton Knox reached base on a Tamaqua fielding error. Knox attempted to steal second base, but catcher Luke Matsago gunned him down with a perfect throw for the second out. In a fitting ending, Kosciolek then struck out Christian Gavornik to end the game.
In the last two days, the Olympians (1-4, 0-2) have been outscored 14-0 with only two combined hits. Of the 41 batters to come to the plate, 24 have been strikeout victims.
"I thought we played well today, but we were snake-bitten by a couple of errors," said Heydt. "Tamaqua's a good team, and for a freshman pitcher, Kosciolek pitched an outstanding game today."
Jim Thorpe 000 000 0 - 0 1 3
Tamaqua 000 001 x - 1 5 3
Ciavarella and Duvigneaud; Kosciolek and Matsago. W - Kosciolek. L - Ciavarella.