Panthers hold off Thorpe
BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS Jim Thorpe's Pat Janecki puts the tag on Ryan Porambo of Panther Valley just before he gets to second base. Porambo was out on the play.
It doesn't matter what the records are when two rival baseball teams get together.
It may sound a little cliché, but when the two schools are separated by a mere eight-and-a-half miles - the saying reigns true.
Although it did make some mistakes, Jim Thorpe did not play like a one-win team in its Schuylkill League match-up with Panther Valley on Thursday. Still, the miscues the Olympians did make cost them dearly, as they fell to the Panthers 8-5.
"Jumping out to a four-run lead was nice," said Panther Valley head coach John Cooper. "But Jim Thorpe battled back. It doesn't matter what the records are. When you play a backyard rival you are going to get a good game. Jim Thorpe came to play today. (Corey) Cinicola kept it in check and allowed them to get back in the game.
"I am just real happy with the way we responded. The two insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth were key and allowed us to have some breathing room."
Panther Valley took control early. The Panthers scored four runs in the bottom of the first inning thanks to two errors and RBIs from Jeff Corby, Zach Stanko and David Marouchoc.
The Olympians made another gaffe in the fourth that cost them a run. Again, with runners on the corners and one out, Sean Green took off for second in an attempt to draw a throw. Pitcher Greg Pecha saw Green go, stepped off the rubber and turned toward second. Thinking that Pecha was not paying attention, Zach Knox tried for the double steal. Instead of going to second, Pecha turned around and gunned Knox down at the plate. Ben Stermer flied out to center in his at-bat which would have turned out to be a sacrifice fly.
Later in the sixth, Jim Thorpe's third baseman and shortstop could not get together on a routine fly ball and made yet another mental mistake. The two let the ball drop between them which loaded the bases. Stanko then hit a sacrifice fly to center to plate a run when the Olympians could have been out of the inning.
"The first inning hurt by giving up four runs," said Jim Thorpe head coach Ken Eck. "Corey did an outstanding job coming in in relief. He got a little wild at the end, but I thought if we held them down we would have a shot in the top of the seventh.
"We had some terrible base-running. That hurt us. Then we made some mistakes on defense. We are finding ways to lose and can't find ways to win. We can't get the big hit when we need it."
Following a rough inning-and-two-thirds for Stermer, Cinciola came in and held the Panthers to just one run through the next three innings. He was credited with two more runs in the sixth, but they scored on a Pat Janecki wild pitch and the sacrifice fly.
Cinciola also had a good day at the plate, as he finished with two hits and three RBIs. He knocked in one in the second on a double off the wall. He then singled with the bases loaded in the third to drive home two. Green had the only other RBI on a single in the fourth.
Leading the way for the Panthers was Casey Lawrence with two singles, two walks and three runs scored. Ryan Porambo and Brandon Gurka each added RBI singles.
"We are striving for those 10 wins to get us into the district playoffs," said Cooper. "This is No. 7. We dropped five in a row, so it was important to come back and win two in a row. We have eight games left, but playing in Schuylkill League Division I - it's not easy to do."
Jim Thorpe 022 100 0 - 5 7 3
Panther Vy 411 002 x - 8 11 1
Stermer, Cinicola (2), Janecki (6) and Knox; Pecha and Marouchoc. W - Pecha, L - Stermer.