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On This Date (April 21, 1999): Marian tops JT

(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 21, 1999).

By Brian Hunsicker


It looked for a while like Jim Thorpe might hand Marian its first baseball loss of the year.

The teams were tied at 2-2 with the Olympians poised to take the lead in the middle innings. But that all changed when a controversial call switched momentum and helped propel the Colts to a 5-2 win on Tuesday.

Marian got their runs on home runs by Matt Leitzel and Ryan Wertman. The Olympians scored on a groundout by Ryan Smith and an infield single by Don Searfoss.

The top of the fifth inning was when the controversy began.

The Olympians were ready to break the tie. With no outs, Matt Long stood on third after having reached on a single, and Geoff Kelowitz was on first after a bloop single down the first base line. That brought up Matt Petrucci, who hit a deep fly ball into left field. Long tagged up and came home to score, appearing to put the Olympians ahead.

But the Colts protested, and Long was ruled out for having left third base too early, much to the displeasure of Jim Thorpe coach John Searfoss. Despite his arguments, the call stood. Instead of having a runner on second with one out, Thorpe now had a runner on first with two outs.

“You don’t ever want to blame a game on a call here or there,” Searfoss said after the game. “But the call in the fifth inning definitely had an effect on the game.

“You know when the umpires did a good job, you don’t have to talk about them. But we have to talk about them, so you know something’s not right.”

“That was a call I wouldn’t have wanted to have to make. It’s a bang-bang play,” said Colts coach Jeff Nietz. “It’s my job to try and get that kind of call, and it’s Coach Searfoss’s job to try and argue it. But I have to make that kind of call. I have to call that appeal. If it goes his way, fine. If it doesn’t, well, we lucked out that it went our way. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the game.”

After Petrucci, Nick Pope flied to left to end the frame.

Marian wasted little time taking over the lead. In the bottom of the fifth, Max Fada’s single down the third base line brought home Tim Matula. The Colts added insurance in the sixth, when a hit by Bill Rico was misplayed in the outfield, allowing Tony Radocha and Al Donadi to score.

Both teams got good performances from their pitchers. Leitzel went the distance for Marian, giving up eight hits and striking out seven. Kelowitz also went the distance for Thorpe, surrendering nine hits and striking out six.

Despite the loss, Searfoss said he was happy with his team’s effort.

“Overall, I’m pretty pleased with our performance. We had a couple of mental lapses, and Marian’s an experienced team with good players. They’ll take advantage of that.”

“I thought maybe Geoff got a little tired there, but he’s a great pitcher,” said Nietz. “We kept telling our guys to be patient, make him bring our pitches.”

The Colts are now 9-0 overall on the season, and 3-0 in league play.

Jim Thorpe 010 100 0 - 2 8 1

Marian 100 112 x - 5 9 2

Kelowitz and Petrucci; Leitzel and Ott. W - Leitzel. L - Kelowitz. HR: Marian - Leitzel (1st, none on), R. Wertman (4th, none on).

Jeff Nietz was the Marian baseball coach for the 1999 game against Jim Thorpe. TIMES NEWS FILE PHOTO