Powerful Spartans down Marian
North Schuylkill’s Zack Stokes slides into second base before Marian’s Aaron Mason has a chance to tag him. Backing up Mason is second baseman Quest Wilson. RON GOWER/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
PINE GROVE – North Schuylkill’s powerful baseball team didn’t disappoint Wednesday afternoon at Walter F. Stump Stadium, where the semifinal round of the Schuylkill Baseball League playoffs finally got underway after two days of rain.
The Spartans used a pair of home runs, a triple and two doubles to waltz to an impressive 8-1 victory over Division 3 champ Marian and move into this evening’s championship game against rival Blue Mountain.
The Eagles, runner up to North Schuylkill in Division 1, defeated Division 2 champions Schuylkill Haven in the nightcap of the doubleheader.
Marian’s youthful team had an uphill battle from the start, falling behind 4-0 after three innings. The Colts struggled to solve the superb pitching of junior left-handed hurler Jake Green.
Green pitched six solid innings, allowing four hits and no earned runs, while chalking up seven strikeouts and walking three.
Despite Green’s strong performance, Marian did have a huge opportunity early in the game that might have changed the complexion of the game.
Trailing 2-0 in the second inning, Marian got a leadoff single from Matt Minchhoff. Green fanned the next two batters, but Julian Richert lashed a single and Hunter Fristick drew a free pass to load the bases.
But Green bore down and got a ground out to kill off the early threat.
“Right there, we had a great opportunity, and against a great team like North Schuylkill you’ve got to produce when you get those chances,” said Marian coach Tony Radocha, who has guided the program to five straight Division 3 titles.
“We had such a good opportunity to score at least a run, but (Green) is very tough and we just weren’t able to take advantage of it.”
The Spartans were tough and it showed to open the game when Zack Stokes walked, stole second and scored on a Reggie Crawford single. In the second, Bandon Rockwell singled, stole second and was wild pitched to third. Jake Hall drove a ball to center field enabling Rockwell to tag and score for a 2-0 lead.
North Schuylkill posted two runs in its next at bat when Zack Chowansky roped a triple to right center and scored on Crawford’s RBI groundout. Mike Little then blasted a home run to dead center field that went 380-plus feet.
The Spartans continued to keep the pressure on, scoring single runs in the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh innings.
“Our kids can hit, and when we put it all together you get these types of results, said North Schuylkill coach Nick Brayford. “So it’s no surprise. We’ve been doing this all season.”
Marian picked up its lone run in the home sixth, thanks to a North Schuylkill error and a Brandon Cann single.
The Colts now wait for the start of the District 11, Class 2A baseball playoffs, which are scheduled to get underway next week.
“We’ll take a day off, and then get back to practice,” said Radocha. “We’re looking forward to playing more baseball.”
SOCKING IT … North Schuylkill banged out 12 hits, three of those coming off the bat of Crawford. Little singled and homered, Chowansky tripled and singled, and Stokes homered and singled as eight Spartans hit safely in the game.
MARIAN BATS … The Colts’ four singles came from Minchhoff, Cann, Richert, and Fristick. Actually, Fristick’s single came when the ball he batted went off baserunner Quest Wilson, who was ruled out on the play.
BEST QUOTE … “Sometimes Goliath beats David,” Marian’s Radocha said in reference to the underdog Colts’ loss.
N. Schuylkill 112 111 1 - 8 12 1
Marian 000 001 1 - 1 4 2
Derr, Cann (4), Wilson (6) and Richert. Green, Stokes (7) and Little. W - Green L - Derr.