On This Date (April 9, 1991): JT trips Marian
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Since May of 1999, the Times News Sports Department has featured an On This Date practically every day, highlighting an event that happened in the past. With the coronavirus putting a halt to sports locally and nationally, the On This Dates have been expanded to the stories that actually ran in the next day’s newspaper. Today’s On This Date story is from April 9, 1991).
By Joe Plasko
TIMES NEWS Staff
The Schuylkill Division II-North race has belonged to Marian the last three seasons, but Jim Thorpe cemented its status as a serious threat to unseat the champs with a 4-2 triumph over the Colts in the league opener for both clubs.
The Colts and Olympians had their aces on the hill, and each took turns throwing BBs at the opposition.
Marian’s Joe Gillespie held the upper hand early, staked to a 2-0 lead, but Thorpe rallied with a pair of runs in the fifth and sixth innings to make a winner out of lefty Greg Flyte.
The triumph improved Thorpe to 5-1 overall, but more importantly, it puts the Carbon County seat nine a leg up in the early chase.
“Before the game, we told them it was just another game out of 14, but it was nice to win,” said Thorpe coach Mike Lewis. “It’s a big lift for us as a confidence-level booster.”
Lewis hoped to get out of the first inning without falling behind, but the Colts, who lost for the first time in five outings, deep-sixed those plans.
With one out, Steve Snerr singled, then stole second, advancing to third on the overthrow. A.J. Serina worked out a walk and swiped second to put two runners in scoring position.
Flyte was able to get the strikeout for the second out, but Chris Rodrigues lined a single through short on an 0-2 count to plate Snerr and Serina and give Marian a 2-0 edge.
The Olympian hurler was masterful after that, allowing just three more hits while fanning eight and passing two.
“I let that pitch (to Rodrigues) get away and it curved over the middle. It was the biggest mistake I made, but after that I tried to keep my head in it, calm down and place the ball better,” explained Flyte. “It was good from there. My fastball tailed good and I had good placement on my curve.”
With Gillespie in command, it looked as if Flyte’s showing would be for naught. Gillespie mowed down nine batters on strikes and surrendered just three hits in the first four innings as the Colts clung to the lead.
The residual effect of extra pitches might have caught up with Gillespie in the fifth, and Joe Butchko, batting ninth, led off with a double to spark an Olympian surge.
Randy Hydro followed it up with a rocket off the left center field fence for a triple, cutting the score to 2-1. Two outs later, Nelson Ulshafer singled in Hydro to tie it.
“Our catcher told me that Joe was making the same pitches he made in the beginning, but they were getting around on them better,” offered Marian coach Charles “Chink” Connely. “He tired a bit at the end, and Thorpe’s a solid hitting team. They hit the ball when they had to.”
The Olympians tagged the Colts for the winning runs in the sixth. Brian Rehrig worked out a walk and was sacrificed to second by Kyle Armbruster. Joe Kehrli smacked a long double to plate Rehrig, and Butchko belted a triple to push home Kehrli.
“The kids at the bottom of the order came through,” mentioned Lewis. “The first couple of times up they were intimidated, but we pulled them aside and told them they could hit if they were more aggressive.”
Thorpe ended with eight hits with Butchko’s double and triple leading the way. Ulshafer had a pair of singles to go with Hydro’s triple and Kehrli’s double. Armbruster and Dave Figura added singles.
Rodrigues had two of Marian’s five hits while Snerr, Serina and Bob Wargo added the others.
Thorpe has little time to rest on its laurels, traveling to Mahanoy Area on Friday. As for the Colts, don’t count them out of the chase yet. They will get another shot at the Olympians in Hometown on April 30.
Marian 200 000 0 - 2 5 2
Jim Thorpe 000 022 x - 4 8 1
Gillespie and Ruggeri; Flyte and Ulshafer. W - Flyte. L - Gillespie.