Apr. 15—FOUNTAIN SPRINGS — For most of Wednesday’s Schuylkill League Division I baseball game against Jim Thorpe, things looked pretty bleak for North Schuylkill.
The Spartans were coming off a shutout loss to Blue Mountain one day earlier in which they mustered just three hits, and Olympians starter Jared Marykwas had held them scoreless through the first five frames in this one.
Somehow, North Schuylkill found a way. A three-run sixth inning tied the game and Jake Hall’s walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh won it as the Spartans captured a 4-3, come-from-behind victory at Robert Wetzel Field.
“We have resilient kids,” North Schuylkill coach Nick Brayford said. “Our kids have been in a little funk and we’ve seen some pitching that we just don’t hit very well.
“I was very happy with the way they came back. I’m real proud of the kids.”
Jim Thorpe (4-4, 1-2 D-I) did everything right for the first five innings.
Marykwas, a senior right-hander, scattered three hits while putting up five straight zeroes, striking out four and walking three. He got great defense behind him, as shortstop Michael Cadogan-Dougherty had five assists with picture-perfect, aggressive plays on tough ground balls.
Two of those assists and a clutch play by third baseman Jared Joyce allowed Jim Thorpe to escape a bases-loaded jam in the third and strand two runners in the fifth.
Offensively, the Olympians combined three stolen bases with a single by Cadogan-Dougherty and an RBI double by Garrett Lienhard to score three runs in the second inning off North Schuylkill starter Anthony Markosky. One run scored when a throw to third on a stolen-base attempt was wild and another scored when Lienhard scampered home on a wild pitch.
“I’m pleased with the effort. They fought from start to finish,” Jim Thorpe coach Joe Marykwas said of his squad. “Unfortunately somebody has to lose a game like this and they made one or two more plays than we did. That’s what it comes down to with a team like that.”
Things fell apart for Jim Thorpe in the sixth inning. Hall led off the frame with a single. After a fielder’s choice out at second, Markosky singled and Dillon O’Neill walked to load the bases.
Jared Marykwas then hit Evan Stanakis with a pitch, forcing in a run. Cadogan-Dougherty came on in relief and induced a ground ball to short. Lienhard, who moved from second base to shortstop, got the out at second base, but Caiden Hurley’s throw to first was wild.
Markosky and O’Neill both scored on the play, tying the game at 3-3.
In the bottom of the seventh, Dylan Dietz walked with one out, stole second and scored on Hall’s single to center.
“Jake is a gamer,” Brayford said. “He’s a gamer in football, he’s a gamer in whatever he does. He comes through. I’m very high on him.”
After his rough second inning, Markosky settled down, only giving up a pair of doubles in four shutout innings. Brayford brought in Dylan Dietz to pitch the seventh, and he retired the Olympians 1-2-3 to set up Hall’s heroics in the bottom half of the inning.
It was the kind of effort Brayford needed from Markosky as the Spartans try to balance their pitching staff with games against Pottsville and Holy Redeemer left this week.
“You know you’re a good pitcher when you pitch on days that you don’t have it and you still do well,” Brayford said of Markosky. “Our players are starting to make plays behind him. That’s what we need to do. We don’t have pitchers who are going to strike out 9-10-11 batters a game, so we have to make plays.
“Anthony did a great job today just battling. He really battled.”
Wednesday’s game showed just how close Jim Thorpe is to being a contender for a Division I playoff spot, and why North Schuylkill has been in the league playoffs three of the past four times.
The Olympians, who are still without injured ace pitcher James Lordi (hamstring), couldn’t find a way to finish, while the Spartans found a way to win. In a Division I race that figures to be a dogfight, finding ways to win games like this one will go a long way in determining which squads reach the Schuylkill League playoffs.
“We have to learn how to get over the hump,” Joe Marykwas said. “We’re getting closer. Last couple of times we played them it was like 15-0.
“We can be competitive with anybody. We have to learn how to finish at the end.”
Contact the writer: [email protected]; 570-628-6026; @pubsportsboss on Twitter