Maybe we can chalk it up to early season jitters, or perhaps temperatures that seem to drop by the minute, but the game that I saw today between Panas and John Jay was not pretty baseball. In a sloppy affair, the Panthers pulled out a dramatic 6-5 win in eight innings on Thursday, showing some grit to rally back from a 5-0 deficit and force extra innings. From there, John Anton led off the bottom of the eighth with a walk and created havoc on the base paths. He stole second base and the errant throw sailed into center field, which allowed him to advance to third. Another wild throw from center to third sent Anton home to give Panas a win on the first day of the season.
Ultimately, it was the Indians’ defense which cost them this game. I had John Jay with six errors, and it might have been more if I were a bit harsher. They outhit the Panthers (10 to 5) and got a stronger effort from their starter Will Jahn (5 IP, 3 R, 0 ER, 5 K, 4 H, 2 BB, 85 pitches, 52 strikes) than Panas got from Brendan Gallagher (3 IP, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 K, 4 H, 3 BB, 57 pitches, 25 strikes). In fact, neither of John Jay’s two pitchers (Jahn and Adam Stroud) gave up an earned run.
With Gallagher struggling to throw strikes, the Indians pounced in the top of third. A single and two walks loaded the bases for O’Connor (sorry about no first name, but the roster I got from John Jay didn’t have any), who came through with a two-run single to give John Jay a 2-0 lead.
The Indians added three more runs in the top of the fifth (two of which came on an error, and the other on an RBI single from Jimmy O’Reilly), and they seemed to have a comfortable lead with Jahn picking up steam. But things began to unravel in the bottom half of the inning.
Jahn picked up two quick outs to begin the bottom of the fifth, but Tom Parish reached on an error to keep the door open for Panas. Parish stole second, and then Gallagher also reached on an error, which allowed Parish to score. Pat Rucci, who was the only Panther with a multi-hit game, came through next with the only extra base-hit of the game for either team — a long double over the rightfielder’s head. That scored Gallagher, and then Rucci eventually scored on another error to cut Panas’ deficit to 5-3. The long inning boosted Jahn’s pitch count and resulted in him being pulled going into the sixth.
The Panthers tied the game at 5-5 in the bottom of the sixth thanks to more sloppy defense from John Jay. Another error on a ball hit by Tim McCauley with runners on second and third got the job done, and then McCauley took over on the mound. He had come on to start the top of the sixth and tossed three scoreless innings to give Panas a chance in extras, eventually earning the win. McCauley showed composure, coming up with a big strikeout to end the top of the seventh with runners on first and second.
Simply put, Panas came away with the win today because they played better fundamental baseball than the Indians did and made them pay for their mistakes. When John Jay allowed extra base-runners to reach safely, the Panthers capitalized.
The positives to take from this if you’re the Indians is that you seem to have a deep and talented lineup to go along with a solid ace in Jahn. They left 10 runners on and could have scored more, but the No. 1 thing John Jay has to take away from this is that they have to improve defensively.
To be fair, it is only the first day of the season, so there is still plenty of time to work the kinks out. It could have just been an off day, but it was certainly a wild start to the season.
Here are the rest of the scores that we received from tonight:
Hastings 4, Edgemont 3: At Edgemont, Brian Schoen had two hits, including a double, and an RBI. David Spielvogel had two hits and two RBI for the Panthers.
New Rochelle 11, Eastchester 0: At New Rochelle, Jayson Gray had a home run, triple and four RBI. Andrew Zigmont pitched six scoreless innings with six strikeouts to get the win.
Somers 9, Hen Hud 4
Gorton 8, Saunders 6
Yorktown 6, Lakeland 1
Peekskill 3, Poughkeepsie 2