Indians rally to edge Thorpe
bob ford/times news Lehighton's Derek Heffelfinger tags out Jim Thorpe's Pat Janecki at second base.
Close games are often won by the team that does the best job of capitalizing on its opportunities.
After five innings of play on Wednesday, Jim Thorpe had the upper hand against Lehighton.
But thanks to a big sixth inning, it was the Indians who had the last laugh in a 3-2 non-league victory.
"We had a runner on third with nobody out. We had a runner on second with nobody out. We didn't score in either of those innings," Lehighton coach Brian Polaha said. "But, we did what we needed to do in the sixth innings. That was the bottom line.
"It wasn't flashy and it was even a clutch hit. When you put the ball in play, good things happen."
Over the first four innings, the Indians only managed to record three hits off Olympian pitcher Corey Cinicola. Despite the lack of hitting, they still had plenty of chances to score. Lehighton managed to strand Nic Storm at third in the second inning, Kyle Hunter and Tyler Hill at second and third in the third inning, and Storm again in the fourth inning.
Jim Thorpe coach Kenny Eck relieved Cinicola because of a high pitch count and brought in Pat Janecki, who pitched a hitless fifth inning.
In the sixth though, Hunter got things started with a leadoff double. He moved to third on a passed ball and scored when Jacen Nalesnik reached on an Olympian throwing miscue. Nic Storm followed with a single moving Nalesnik to third base. Polaha sent up Matty Schaeffer to pinch hit and Schaeffer did exactly what his coach asked of him.
"With runners on first and third with nobody out, all he has to do is put the ball in play and that's what he did," said Polaha, of Schaeffer's groundout which scored Nalesnik with the tying run. "A fielder's choice was all we needed.
"We were striking out in those situations and all we needed was some contact to get the run home. You got to put the ball in play and that's what he did."
The Indians weren't quite finished. Pinch-hitter Anthony Farole walked moving Schaeffer into scoring position. A ground out then moved both runners up a base.
With two outs and the go ahead run on third base, The Indians' Derek Heffelfinger had the chance to atone for a miscue on the base paths an inning earlier. Heffelfinger more than made up for the mistake by delivering an infield single to drive in what turned out to be the game-winning run.
"A 65-foot base hit, but we will take it," Polaha said. "It gave us the lead. He did a great job hussling for me. He kept his head up after that cardinal sin on the bases earlier. But to stay in there and battle, you have got to give him credit."
Tyler Hill relieved Indians' starting pitcher Dave Behler in the seventh and retired the side to pick up the save. Behler, who finished with a seven strikeouts, got the win.
Cinicola and Sean Green knocked in runs for Jim Thorpe in the fourth inning, but they didn't hold up.
"The sixth inning hurt us," Eck said. "We just have to correct these small mistakes and learn from it. Our main goal is to compete in every game and today we did. We need to keep getting better and we'll be alright. We'll definitely learn from this one."
Jim Thorpe 000 200 0 - 2 4 3
Lehighton 000 003 x - 3 6 2
Cinicola, Janecki (5) and Stermer; Behler, Hill (7) and Nalesnik. W - Behler. L - Janecki. S - Hill.