CURWENSVILLE — For the players of the Golden Tide baseball team, it is a rare occurrence to have a game occur on a weekend considering that school is not in session. It’s even more rare that the team plays two games during the season on a weekend.
For Curwensville, they had both aspects in the matter of one afternoon. With a picturesque day with the sun shining in the skies, and temperatures on the rise, the Tide took to their own field for a double-header against the Johnsonburg Rams. The two squads were originally slated to play on Monday in Johnsonburg, but the weather decided to again play havoc on both squads. Rather than try to find another day for the Tide to travel, the two schools agreed that the teams would play both games on the Tide field, with Johnsonburg being the designated home team in the second contest.
In game one of the afternoon, Curwensville faltered early, and it cost them an opportunity as they could not make up for the miscues in the opening inning, falling to Johnsonburg 5-2.
Avery Francisco got the nod for the start in the opening game, and after a strikeout, things began faltering. Austin Greene reached first on an error, then stole second to put a runner in scoring position. Neil MacDonald then pulled a huge RBI-double to left-center on a 1-2 pitch to bring in the opening run. MacDonald then came home two batters later on an RBI-single by Ben Freeburg. The early 2-0 lead put Curwensville in a hole, but not for long.
In the bottom of the frame, Francisco helped his own cause by hitting an RBI-double to plate Josh Terry. Bryce Timko then brought Francisco to the plate thanks to a single to shallow right.
The 2-2 game remained tied until the top of the third when Johnsonburg took the lead for good.
MacDonald started the inning and got on base quickly after being struck in the side. He advanced two bases thanks to stealing second, then advancing to third on a wild pitch. A groundout by Freeburg may have put an out on the board, but it brought MacDonald to the plate. It ended up being the final lead change in the game.
That lead change would ultimately hand Francisco the loss, and Elmquist the victory on the afternoon.
Johnsonburg added an additional two runs in the fifth to give a better cushion when MacDonald hit his second RBI-double of the game, plating Greene, and then MacDonald came home on a ground-out by Jonny Mitchell.
Curwensville head coach Tom Harzinski felt things could have gone the way of his team had the score been a bit closer.
“We had an error right off the bat, cost us two unearned runs. Going into the last inning of the first game, a 3-2 game is a lot more manageable than a 5-2 game,” he said. “We could have approached it a lot more different.”
SCORE BY INNING
Johnsonburg 201 020 0 – 5 7 1
Curwensville 200 000 0 – 2 6 1
Johnsonburg – 5
Reaubenstrauch CF 3000, Greene 2B/P 4220, MacDonald SS 3322, Mitchell 3B/2B 4001, Freeburg DH 3012, Elmquist P 3000, Zameroski RF/3B 3000, Gresco 1B 3010, Allegretto LF 1010. TOTALS 27 5 7 5.
Curwensville – 2
VonGunden SS 4010, Terry CF 2100, Francisco P/LF3121, Timko DH/1B 4021, McCracken LF/P4000, Brewer 1B/DH 2000, Evans 2B 3000, Farley 3B 2010, Bakaysa RF 3000. TOTALS 27 2 6 2.
LOB: Jburg – 5, Cville – 9
2B: MacDonald (2)/Francisco; E: Reubenstrauch/VonGunden; HBP: MacDonald/Francisco; SB: MacDonald, Greene, Allegretto (3)/Francisco, Terry; CS: Gresco
Johnsonburg: Elmquist-4 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 SO, 4 BB; Greene-3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 5 SO, 0 BB.
Curwensville: Francisco-5.2 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 4 SO, 3 BB; McCracken-1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 SO, 0 BB.
WP-Elmquist (2-0). LP-Francisco (0-1)
Both teams got approximately an hour break in between the games to get something to eat, recoup, and prepare for the second game. Players got loose while the coaches finalized the lineups and had a discussion with the umpires. At about 1 p.m. both teams were set to go.
Each side decided to go with their best for the second game. Gabe Watts took to the mound for Johnsonburg, while it was Timko getting the chance to shine once again for the Tide.
This game saw Curwensville take to the batters box first, as they were the designated road team for game two. But, unlike the first game, this one saw one team take the lead, and never look back. That team was Curwensville as they took momentum late in the game to cruise to the 5-0 shutout victory.
Both pitchers had near identical games through the first four innings. Neither were giving up anything on the field, that is until the top of the fifth inning. Watts started the inning strong, striking out Christian Bakaysa after a full count. But, that is when things started to go awry. Noah VonGunden walked to first, then stole second while Josh Terry was at the plate. Terry ultimately struck out, putting two outs on the board. But, things were not done yet, as Francisco pelted a 1-2 pitch to left field, pulling VonGunden around the bags while Francisco held on at first to give the Tide the lead.
Timko then followed it up with a massive RBI-double to left field to give Curwensville a two-run advantage. Despite Josh McCracken striking out to close the inning, Curwensville had a good feeling heading into the bottom of the inning.
Timko felt that vibe, and decided to do what he does best: strike batters out.
He saw three batters in the bottom of the inning, and all three went down on strikes. It was three of his eight strikeouts on the afternoon, which is exactly what Harzinski expects from his ace on the mound.
“He’s a senior, a leader, and something special. Just a special player, and he keeps us competitive,” he said.
But Timko wasn’t without challenges. To that point, he was hurling a no-hitter, and despite the pitch count going up, the coaches wanted him to keep going. That no-hitter ultimately fell in the sixth inning when Paul Gresco popped a short ball into right field. A pair of walks later with two outs loaded the bases for the Rams, the first jam the Tide was in all game.
After a talk with his catcher, Timko took to the mound hoping to end the inning on a strong note. Pitch one: an inside fast ball for strike one. Pitch two: a curve that kept Mitchell looking at the ball but in the zone for strike two. Pitch three: a heater down the center that was swung on and missed. Jam over, and inning over.
Curwensville needed a run to give a bit of breathing room heading into the final inning. The seventh inning they got that, and then some. A walk by Terry, which then included a stolen base, was then followed up by an intentional walk of Francisco, his second of the game. With runners on first and second, Timko came to the plate trying to add on what he did in the fifth. He did that and more by hammering the ball to right-center, bringing Terry to the plate and putting runners on the corners.
McCracken then did his own contribution with a blast to left field to bring Francisco to the plate.
With Timko on third, a sacrifice fly by Zach Brewer put a third run in the inning and gave Curwensville a much better cushion heading into the last half inning.
“We got those two runs in the fifth, but then to get those three runs in the seventh, that was key to give us that cushion,” Harzinski said of the scoring late in the contest.
Timko’s efforts ended with a walk, and McCracken was then moved from left field to the mound in hopes to close out the game and get another save on the season. Despite his first effort yielding another hit, with runners on first and second he struck out Zack Zameroski looking, then a ground out by Paul Gresco put two outs on the board, but runners in scoring position. Dante Allegretto was the last batter to save the Rams and possibly extend the game.
On a full-count, and with McCracken continuously pitching low with a foul off, one high pitch almost ended the game but was fouled slightly back. Finally, he sent one more change up low, but it was low enough where it was just above the knees, and the umpire called the strike, and it was game over.
“Jake has been doing that all year for us. As a freshman, to come in and play like that, we have the utmost confidence in him right now,” Harzinski said of his closer.
Curwensville’s early success is promising, as they now sit at 4-2. Harzinski knows that the upcoming week is going to be tough as they have games on four of the five days slated. But, he also is looking ahead to what a possible post-season could mean, considering how well Johnsonburg played them both games.
“We’re sitting good. We have pitchers that are rested and ready to go for next week,” he said. “Johnsonburg is a good team, we’re probably going to run into them down the road.”
The Tide will start the upcoming week on the road for a 4:30 p.m. first pitch against the Glendale Vikings.
SCORE BY INNING
Curwensville 000 020 3 – 5 8 0
Johnsonburg 000 000 0 – 0 2 0
Curwensville – 5
VonGunden SS 3110, Terry CF 3120, Francisco C 1111, Bressler PR 0100, Timko P/LF 4122, McCracken LF/P Brewer 1B 3011, Heitsenrether PH/1B 1010, Evans 2B 4000, Farley 3B 2000, Bakaysa RF 3000. TOTALS 28 5 8 5.
Johnsonburg – 0
Reubenstrach CF 3000, Greene 2B/P/2B 1000, MacDonald SS 2000, Mitchell 3B/2B 3000, Freeburg DH 2000, Watts P 0000, Thorwart RF 2010, Zameroksi RF3B/LF 3000, Gresco 1B 2000, Singer PH 1010, Allegretto LF/P 3000. TOTALS 21 0 2 0.
LOB: Cville -8, Jburg -6; 2B: Terry, Timko; SAC: Brewer; SB: Francisco, McCracken, Terry, VonGunden
Curwensville: Timko-6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 8 K, 6 BB; McCracken 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 K, 0 BB.
Johnsonburg: Watts-5 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 8 K, 3 BB; Greene-1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 SO, 1 BB; Allegretto-1 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 SO, 2 BB.
Golden Tide Scoreboard:
Date Opponent Score Record
3/23 @ Broadalbin-Perth, NY 1 – 2, 8 inn. 0 – 1
3/24 @ Friends Select School, PA 9 – 2 1 – 1
3/27 BROCKWAY ppd. 1 – 1
3/29 @ Punxsutawney ppd. 1 – 1
4/05 @ Elk County Catholic ppd. 1 – 1
4/06 @ West Branch 3 – 0 2 – 1
4/09 @ Johnsonburg ppd. 2 – 1
4/10 ELK COUNTY CATHOLIC 5 – 3 3 – 1
4/14 JOHNSONBURG 2 – 5 3 – 2
4/14 JOHNSONBURG 5 – 0 4 – 2
4/16 @ Glendale
4/17 @ Kane
4/19 DUBOIS CENTRAL CATH
4/24 @ Brockway
4/26 MO VALLEY
5/01 @ Elk County Catholic
5/07 @ Harmony
5/15 @ Clearfield
5/16 @ DuBois Central Catholic