HS BASEBALL: Panthers top Marian | Sports

HOMETOWN — The momentum was clearly on Marian’s side. With one swing of the bat,

HOMETOWN — The momentum was clearly on Marian’s side. With one swing of the bat, Stephen Hood moved that momentum to Panther Valley’s side for good. Hood’s two-run homer broke a fourth-inning tie and propelled the Panthers to an 8-4 victory over the Colts in the Schuylkill League Division III opener for both teams. Hood, a freshman, finished 3-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBIs and threw a runner out at second base on a single to right field in the seventh. “That was big,” Hood said of his home run. “They had a ton of motivation after their home run. To get one of our own, that was big. I think that’s a big reason why we won the game today.” Panther Valley (3-0, 1-0 D-III) grabbed the early lead with three runs in the top of the first inning, combining a double by Johnny Byers, a single by Hood and two Marian errors. The Colts (1-1, 0-1) answered with two runs in the bottom half of the frame on a double by Luke Walser and RBI singles by Julian Rickert and Jake Chulock. Chulock’s single was a high infield popup with two outs that found the grass and scored Rickert, who was hustling all the way, from second base. Marian then surged in front in the home half of the third on a two-run homer to left by Chulock that gave the Colts a 4-3 lead. The Panthers, however, wasted no time in answering off losing pitcher Walser, as Pavlik doubled, Pascoe plated him with a game-tying single and Hood launched a high fastball over the fence in left-center to put PV up 6-4. “When I hit it was a tie game. I saw a good pitch, hit it on the barrel and I hit it high. That’s probably how it went over … it just carried,” Hood said. Pavlik, Panther Valley’s starting pitcher, struggled early to get his breaking pitches over the plate. He settled down after Chulock’s homer, giving up two hits over three scoreless innings before reaching the 100-pitch limit with two outs in the sixth. Bradley Hood pitched the final 1.1 innings, striking out three, for the save. “To start off the game I couldn’t find the curveball. I couldn’t throw a slider for a strike, just fastballs. They attacked it well,” said Pavlik, who surrendered six hits and four runs while walking two and striking out six in 5.2 innings. “Third inning came, found it a little better and started to get hitters to roll it over and do what we needed to do.” A key point in the game came in the bottom of the fifth. Trailing 6-4, Marian used an infield error and a single by Walser to put two runners on with one out. A senior right-hander, Pavlik got Rickert to pop up and then fanned Chulock on a 2-2 fastball to escape the jam. “I’ve played with Rickert a couple of years and I knew what he could do,” Pavlik said. “(Chulock) hit the home run and I just wanted to attack him away where he couldn’t hit it. That was huge. It was a big pitch.” Panther Valley added two runs in the top of the seventh on a two-run double by Pavlik, who finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs. The Panthers collected 13 hits, including four for extra bases. “We came out to play today and showed a little bit of fight, which is good,” Marian coach Tony Radocha said. “We’re a young squad. We’re still learning what our identity is. “We have to grow up quick. It’s a baptism by fire. Every day we have to get better. We battled for 4.5 innings. Panther Valley is a little more experienced and their experience showed today. Panther Valley was the better team today.”

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