CURWENSVILLE — Having to wait over a week to get on the baseball diamond is tough for any level of action. The last time the Golden Tide of Curwensville stepped foot on the field for competition was Friday, March 24, when they started the 2017 season against Philipsburg-Osceola.
Two rain outs last week kept the Tide idle, but in doing so, it ensured a four-game stretch at home to start the year.
After finally having a clear enough, and more importantly dry enough, day to actually compete, Tom Harzinski’s team put on the gloves and spikes, ready to see their first AML action of the season. Monday afternoon, the Elk County Catholic Crusaders made the trip east to see their second game of the year, hoping to get their first win on the season, just like Curwensville.
In one aspect, the game could be considered a pitching duel. The Crusaders sent Gabe Kraus to the mount for the first time on the year, while Curwensville relied on their best pitcher, Bryce Timko, to do duties. Both pitchers put on stellar performances, lasting over half the game before being relieved.
The unfortunate aspect for Curwensville was, despite being strong at the plate, defensive mistakes proved costly. Four fielding errors by the Tide, combined with a pair of pitcher miscues, led to runs, and ultimately a 6-2 defeat.
Timko’s day started strong, dropping the first two Crusader batters. But, on a 1-1 pitch to Dan Stauffer, Timko caught the elbow, putting a runner on first. Stauffer then stole second a couple of pitches later. The first baseman for Elk County, Ryan Heary, then got the scoring going with a deep RBI-single to left field, bringing the first run of the game to home plate.
Timko recovered quickly, striking out Eric Dieber to end the inning, his first of eight strikeouts on the afternoon.
Once the sides swapped, the Tide started getting the bats swinging. Josh Terry reached first on an opposite-field hit to right field to get on base. Avery Francisco then connected on a 2-0 slider, blasting the ball deep to center field, and bringing Terry to third, while he doubled up to second.
One batter later, Timko showed he’s just as dangerous with a bat in his hand as he is winding up to throw. On the first pitch, Timko nailed a fastball almost to the exact same location as Francisco, which was more than enough to plate two runs, and put himself on second. Just like that, Curwensville got the 2-1 advantage.
The second inning went quickly when Timko went back to the mound, striking out Nate DaCanal, Frank Singer, and Jordan Nasoni in stellar fashion, In the bottom half of the inning, Curwensville loaded up the bases with two outs, only to see Francisco line out to right field, leaving the one-run advantage.
When it came time for the third inning, things began going downhill.
Everything started off well with a strikeout to Kraus. But then Jared Braun hit a pop-up to short right-field. But, Austin Lansberry mishandled the fly ball, landing just inside the baseline, and putting a runner on first. Braun then stole second when Brad Dippold was at the plate. Dippold then walked on five pitches. But then, a critical mistake by Timko set things in motion.
With runners on the corners, Dippold went for the steal, leaving long before the wind up. In doing so, Timko went for the pitch, but then saw the runner in motion. Because of how far he was in the wind up, both the base and home plate umpires called a balk, moving Dippold to second, and Braun easily walked home, tying up the game at two runs a piece. Dippold eventually walked. Stauffer also then walked to put runners on the corners.
Heary then nailed a full-count curve ball to center field, sacrificing the out in order to bring in the leading run.
Finally, Timko’s inning ended with a strikeout of Dieber, an inning that lasted 36 total pitches, and seeing two of his three runs given up be unearned.
After the fourth inning, Timko was relieved after a 96-pitch, eight strikeout, and only two hit performance. Sadly, on this day, he was credited with a loss for his efforts.
Meanwhile, Kraus found his groove after the first inning struggles for the Crusaders. In his four innings of work, he gave up the seven hits by Curwensville, while tossing four strikeouts compared to only three walks. It was the Crusader defense that assisted in giving him the victory on this day.
Francisco came in to pitch beginning in the fifth inning, and he also struggled. Dippold was walked, then stole second while Stauffer was struck out. Heary then walked to put runners on first and second, then both Dippold and Heary managed to steal bases. The problem was a short time later, Dippold decided to steal home, and in doing so caused a balk to advance all runners, and put another run on the scorecard.
The inning came to a close when Dieber and Nate DeCanal each saw fly balls land into the gloves of Curwensville.
In the sixth inning, the fourth unearned run of the game came home from Kraus following a fielding error by Matt Carter, Dippold being struck in the arm on a pitch, and Stauffer being walked.
Dippold took over pitching duties in the fifth inning, and his three innings of relief yielded no hits, three strikeouts and four walks, while the Crusader defense guaranteed no runner was getting to home plate at any point.
In the final inning, Austin Lansberry came in for one inning to possibly warm up the arm for potentially his first start of the season later this week. He too saw difficulty at the mound, giving up three hits, and one run, while not striking out any batter. The run scored thanks to an RBI-single by Jordan Nasoni on a 1-1 liner down the left field baseline.
Curwensville found life in the final inning, as Zach McClure got hit on the second pitch, then Zach Brewer walked to put runners on first and second. Blake Passarelli pinch-hit in the bottom of the lineup, hoping to bring in one run in and get a rally going. But, four pitches is all it took to strike out the shortest player on the Tide roster. Noah VonGunden was the last hope for the Tide, and on the 0-1 pitch, he flew out to third, signaling the end of the afternoon.
The Tide (0-2) continue their season this Wednesday with a 4:15 p.m. start against the Johnsonburg Rams.
SCORE BY INNING
Elk Co. Catholic 102 011 1 – 6 5 0
Curwensville 200 000 0 – 2 7 4
Elk County Catholic – 6
Jared Braun CF 5100, Brad Dippold SS/P 1200, Dan Stauffer C 1100, Ryan Heary 1B 3012, Eric Dieber 3B 4110, Nate DaCanal 2B 3000, Alex O’Neill PH 1000, Frank Singer LF 4010, Jordan Nasoni RF 4000, Gabe Kraus P/SS 1000, Alex Wehler PH 2120. TOTALS 29 6 5 2.
Curwensville – 2
Noah Vongunden SS 5020, Josh Terry CF 2110, Avery Francisco 2B/P 3110, Bryce Timko P/LF 4012, Austin Lansberry RF/P 4010, Zach McClure 2000, Austin Butlin C 2010, Jeremiah Farley 3B 3000, Zach Brewer PH 0000, Christian Backaysa LF 2000, Ralph Evans PH 0000, Blake Passarelli PH 1000, Matt Carter PH 0000. TOTALS 28 2 7 2.
E: McClure, Carter, Evans, Farley. LOB: ECC-10; CV-14. 2B-Francisco, Timko. HBP-Dippold, Stauffer; McClure, Evans.
Elk County Catholic: Kraus-4 IP, 7 H, 2 R 2 ER, 4 K, 3 BB; Dippold-3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 K, 4 BB.
Curwensville: Timko-4 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 8 K, 3 BB; Francisco-2 IP, 0 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 K, 3 BB; Lansberry-1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 K, 0 BB.
WP: Kraus (1-0)
LP: Timko (0-1)
Golden Tide Scoreboard:
|3/24||PHILIPSBURG-OSCEOLA||2 – 8||0 – 1|
|3/27||@ Brockway||ppd.||0 – 1|
|3/30||@ Punxsutawney||ppd.||0 – 1|
|4/03||ELK COUNTY CATHOLIC||2 – 6||0 – 2|
|4/18||@ Mo Valley|
|4/21||@ DuBois Central Catholic|
|5/02||@ Elk County Catholic|
|5/17||DUBOIS CENTRAL CATH|