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On This Date (May 13, 1994): Jim Thorpe tops 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 May 13, 1994).

By Emmett McCall

Times News Staff

“Stayin’ Alive” has been the theme song for the Jim Thorpe baseball team this week.

The Olympians, the two-time defending Schuylkill League Division III champions, have been in do-or-die situations in their last two games - and they haven’t died yet.

Friday afternoon at Marian, Jim Thorpe kept first-place Marian from clinching the division title with a 6-4 victory.

It was the second time in the last three days that the Olympians’ win was in jeopardy until the final pitch of the bottom of the seventh inning.

On Wednesday, Jason Skrimcovsky’s three-run homer in the final frame defeated Panther Valley, 8-6. Yesterday, Eric Schrantz provided the finishing touch as his strikeout of Trevor Golden with Colt runners on second and third ended the game.

“This was a nice win for us,” stated Jim Thorpe coach Mike Lewis. “We still need help to win the Division III championship. But this should at least serve as a confidence builder for us.

“We were pretty down after losing to Freeland MMI on Monday. But if nothing else, the last two games are a good start at building momentum for the district playoffs.”

Marian (9-2 league; 10-6 overall) still controls its own destiny. The Colts can wrap up the division crown with a victory over Cardinal Brennan in their league finale Friday. Marian can also clinch if both Jim Thorpe and Freeland MMI lose on Tuesday.

“We’re still in the driver’s seat. Everybody is still chasing us,” remarked Marian coach Jeff Nietz. “I was happy with the way we battled back after falling behind today and I’m confident our kids will bounce back from this loss.”

Jim Thorpe took a 1-0 lead in the first on an RBI single by Norm Garner.

The Olympians then used the long ball to increase the spread. Gary Storer hit a solo shot in the third and Mike Gruber added a two-run shot in the sixth. They also added a single run in the fifth when Joe Marzen doubled and came around on a pair of wild pitches.

“We told our kids we had to be more aggressive at the plate and I think we were,” explained Lewis.

While Thorpe was scoring runs in four of the first six innings, Schrantz was silencing the Marian bats, allowing his team to build a 5-0 advantage.

“I’ve got to tip my hat to Eric Schrantz,” praised Nietz. “He did a great job of keeping us off balance with his curve ball. That was his pitch today. He threw it ahead in the count and behind in the count, and was getting it over.”

The Colts finally got to Schrantz in the sixth as they combined a leadoff single by Jim Dirzulaitis with four walks and a costly two-run throwing error.

Schrantz’s fielder’s choice plated a run in the Jim Thorpe seventh to make it 6-3.

The Olympian hurler then retired the first two batters he faced in the bottom of the inning. But a walk and an error kept Marian’s hopes alive.

Mike Petrucci then legged out an infield single on a slow roller down the third baseline and when Schrantz threw the ball away, one run scored and the tying runs advanced to second and third.

Schrantz preserved the win, however, by getting Golden looking with a curve ball.

Storer and Marzen both finished with two hits to lead Jim Thorpe (8-3 league; 8-7 overall) offensively. Jack Pieracini had two hits for Marian.

Schrantz went the distance, striking out eight and walking five. Golden suffered the loss. He fanned eight and walked two.

Jim Thorpe 101 012 1 - 6 6 4

Marian 000 003 1 - 4 6 1

Schrantz and Gruber; Golden and Pieracini. W - Schrantz. L - Golden. HR: JT - Storer (3rd, none on), Gruber (6th, one on).

Eric Schrantz pitched Jim Thorpe to a win over Marian in a 1994 game. Schrantz went the distance and struck out eight. He also knocked in a run at the plate. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO