Hood’s blast sparks PV over Marian
Early seasons showdowns sometimes don’t live up to expectations.
But when Panther Valley and Marian met on a perfect Tuesday afternoon for baseball, that certainly wasn’t the case.
These two teams aren’t just rivals, but they are among the favorites in Division 3 of the Schuylkill League.
It’s no secret that the Colts have been “the team to beat” for what seems like forever in the division.
This year, the Panthers appear to be a team with the ability to challenge for that honor.
Panther Valley used its offensive attack to power past the Colts, 8-4, in the league opener for both teams. The victory improves PV’s overall record to 3-0 on the young season.
Marian, which is 1-1 overall, will now be in the role of the chaser.
It’s a nice advantage for the Panthers, but there is a long way to go as both coaches pointed out after the game.
“It’s a long season. Just the first of many league games,” said Panther Valley’s Rich Evanko.
“They got us this time, but we’ve got plenty of baseball to play and being so young, we’re going to get better,” Marian’s Tony Radocha said.
The Colts showed some grit early when they rallied from an early three-run deficit, and eventually took a 4-3 lead when senior Jake Chulock buried a two-run homer over the left field fence in the bottom of the third. Chulock’s blast came after sophomore Chase Petrilyak drew a bases on balls.
Not to be outdone, Panther Valley had a swatter of its own as freshman Stephen Hood went yard with a booming two-run homer to put the Panthers up in the top half of the fourth inning - a lead they would never surrender.
“It was a high fastball,” Hood explained. “My coaches were saying that I hit a high pitch, but I like to swing at high pitches.”
Indeed he must.
When the ball left Hood’s bat, left fielder Dante Agosti never moved as it was a no-doubt-about-it blast.
The Panthers had tied the game at 4-4 right before Hood’s homer when Derek Pavlik sent a drive to center field that was dying fast and fell in front of Petrilyak, who made a diving stab at the play. The ball bounded away, enabling Pavlik to reach second safely with one out. Mike Pascoe scalded a single to left to pick up the RBI, and Hood deposited his round tripper three pitches later.
“I was proud of the guys the way they battled back. They showed that mental toughness,” Evanko said of his team answering after Marian took the lead.
After Hood’s bomb, winning pitcher Pavlik settled down on the mound and didn’t allow another runner to cross the plate.
Pavlik sent the Colts down in order in the fourth, and then worked out of jam in the fifth.
“Derek didn’t have his best stuff, but he really battled,” Evanko said. “He struggled with the curve ball, and he wasn’t locating the fastball, but he’s a seasoned guy. He battled.”
After six innings of work and 100 pitches, Pavlik was lifted in favor of the Panthers’ mound ace Brad Hood, who finished the sixth with a strikeout and fanned two hitters in the seventh to end any hopes Marian had of making a comeback.
“It’s Panther Valley in a division game at home,” said Radocha talking about the playofflike atmosphere for the early-season game. “This is why kids come here ... to play in big games like this. It was a lot of fun.
“But it’s only Game 3 this year. We are going to keep learning and improving.”
Panther Valley hopped in front with three runs - one earned - off starting and losing pitcher Luke Walser. Johnny Byers and Stephen Hood both singled in the first inning, and Marian booted the ball around twice allowing the visitors to jump ahead.
Marian put a two spot on the board in its home half of the first. Walser laced a screaming double down the left field line, which missed going out of the park for a homer by inches. Julian Rickert picked up an RBI hit and scored when Chulock singled him home.
… PV had a 13-hit attack led by Stephen Hood, who had three hits and three RBIs; Pavlik had two doubles and two RBIs; Pascoe and Chase Weaver both had two singles. Marian collected seven hits led by Chulock’s homer, single and three RBIs. Walser also had two hits.
… Both sides made some quality plays in the field. Marian second baseman Mason Gibson came up big on two grounders, as did Patty Boyle at second for PV.
BEHIND THE PLATE
… Panther Valley and Marian may have the two best catchers in the entire Schuylkill League. Panther Valley freshman Cody Orsulak is terrific, as is Marian’s Rickert.
Panther Valley 300 300 2 – 8 13 1
Marian 202 000 0 – 4 7 3
Pavlik, B. Hood (5) and Orsulak; Walser, Petrilyak (6) and Rickert. W – Pavlik. L – Walser. HR: Panther Valley: S. Hood (4th, one on). Marian: Chulock (3rd, one on)