It was a very windy and wild Monday afternoon in the TIMES NEWS area.
Fortunately for the Lehighton baseball team, so too was Jim Thorpe's pitching and fielding.
The Indians took advantage of three first-inning walks by Olympian starter Ian Sterling to grab an early three-run lead. Later in the fourth, Lehighton pushed across seven more runs thanks in large part to three Jim Thorpe errors. The big fourth inning eventually led to a 13-0 victory for the Indians.
"I wanted our guys to be patient," said Lehighton manager Brian Polaha. "Hitting is definitely not our forte right now because we have so many new guys. We have to be patient and we have to take what they give us. When they give us walks, we have to figure out a way to put some balls in play and get some of those guys in."
Although the conditions weren't very conducive for good pitching, Lehighton's Thatcher David took the hill and threw brilliantly. The junior right-hander allowed just four hits and two walks through four innings of work and really seemed to keep the Olympians' hitters off balance throughout the day.
"It was a little windy and tough getting started," said David, who struck out four on the day. "My pitches weren't on location-wise and I had to work on getting my curveball down. I just tried to throw strikes and let my defense do the work if they hit it."
The only trouble David really got into came in the fourth. Jim Thorpe's Alex Steigerwalt and Bryce Micciche led off the inning with a single and a double respectively and seemed poised to finally get their team on the board.
It wasn't to be though, as David hunkered down and worked his way out of the inning. He struck out the next two batters before inducing an inning-ending ground ball to third.
"Those first two hits I left my pitches a little up and they were able to put a good swing on them," David said. "After that I was able to work my curveball and mix that in to keep them off balance. It worked to my advantage getting those two strikeouts and then my infielders made a good play to get me out of the inning."
Meanwhile, the Lehighton offense woke up after scoring just two runs against Tamaqua last week. After scoring three runs in the first, the Indians plated three more on three hits in the second.
Lehighton (1-1) then put the game out of reach in the fourth when it essentially enacted the ten-run rule with a seven-run inning. The Indians recorded four hits in the inning, but were also aided by three Jim Thorpe errors.
Jordan Knappenberger and Kyle Troch each drove in two runs for Lehighton. Knappenberger had a two-run single in the fourth, while Troch singled in a run in the first and fourth inning. James Farano (2-for-3), Jacen Nalesnik and Josh Kern (2-for-3) each knocked in runs as well.
"This is a good place to start," said Polaha. "We already have two tough league games coming up, so I wanted to get this game in and see how we would respond to our loss at Tamaqua. This was a good game for ours guys. Maybe we didn't see the quality of pitching that we are going to see in our league, but enough for them to battle and get some confidence."
Even though the Indians' offense showed up on Monday, Polaha admitted that his team's pitching and defense will have to carry the squad in the early going.
"Our defense has played well the first two games," Polaha said. "I have no complaints with that. Our whole infield is playing well right now. That is one thing I banked on coming into this year. Pitching and defense needs to carry us right now until we get going offensively."
Jim Thorpe 000 00 - 0 4 4
Lehighton 330 7x - 13 10 0
Sterling, Peters (2), Thompson (4) and Duvigneaud; David, Rex (5) and Nalesnik. W - David. L - Sterling.