JOHNSONBURG – Both the Johnsonburg and Curwensville coaches agreed the pitching is ahead of the hitting at this early juncture of the season.
The Rams had timely hitting in the fourth for the lone run of the game to propel Johnsonburg to a 1-0 win over the Golden Tide Thursday at Knothole Area Recreational Park.
“All the hitting on both teams is off a little bit because of early-season gym times, I think it’s kicking everybody’s butt a little bit,” Johnsonburg coach Jeff Peterson said. “The hitting started coming around. We hung around and scored when we had to. I think we got a real quality win there.”
Johnsonburg catcher Zac Luhr opened the bottom of the fourth with a single. He finished 2-for-3 and has five hits in his last six at-bats, dating back to a 3-for-3 performance against Ridgway on Tuesday. Courtesy runner Kyle Sheldon stole second base and Quinn Luhr drove Sheldon home with a single for the game’s only run. Quinn Luhr was thrown out as he got in a rundown between first and second. Quinn was 1-for-1 with one RBI and walked twice.
Johnsonburg kept the threat going in the fourth as Frank Kocjancic reached on an error from the Curwensville left fielder. Kocjancic stole second and moved to third on a passed ball. Two strikeouts from Curwensville pitcher Garrett LaBorde ended the inning. LaBorde took the hard-luck loss, tossing a complete game and allowing just three hits. He walked three and struck out seven. LaBorde was also 2-for-3 with a double. Coach Peterson complimented LaBorde on his performance, saying “he threw a really nice game.”
Johnsonburg freshman Cole Peterson tossed a complete-game shutout, walking two and striking out six. Peterson scattered five hits in the outing.
“I think Cole did an outstanding job for a freshman,” coach Peterson said. “He threw just outstanding, locating his pitches, his curveball was just dropping off the map.”
Coach Peterson said he had thoughts of taking Cole off the mound as the game went on but the Johnsonburg pitcher’s strong play kept him in.
“I was thinking about pulling him earlier but I figured we were going to keep riding him until they started hitting him,” coach Peterson said. “He did well, he had a low pitch count so I didn’t have to get him out. He said his arm felt great.”
Curwensville coach Denny Johns said the pitching was dominant for the whole game on both sides.
“It was definitely a pitcher’s duel, a classic pitcher’s duel,” Johns said. “The Peterson boy, I was really impressed with him. He threw the ball really well, he moved the ball in and out all day and really had us off stride. I think both teams were a little rusty, I think both teams will improve offensively once we get outside a little more consistently. It was a fun ballgame, it was disappointing to be on the losing end but a fun ballgame to be a part of.”
Curwensville had a strong threat in the second inning but could not cash in. After a pair of flyouts, LaBorde and Kyle Bloom both singled, leaving LaBorde at third and Bloom at first. With Shelby McGary at the plate, Bloom went to steal second. Zac Luhr’s throw went to shortstop Mitchell Holmberg instead of second base. LaBorde was sent home and caught in a rundown for the third out and the end of the inning.
“That was really my fault,” Johns said. “They executed that play very well. When I saw the height of the ball, I thought they were throwing past the pitcher and making the play at second. That was my fault, I broke Garrett and they made the play. I have to take the blame for that.”
Coach Peterson said he emphasized working on the drills after the game.
“I just told them in the dugout, you guys think it’s a monotonous drill, thinking they’re never going to work,” coach Peterson said. “There you go, that saved a run, they might have got a run that inning. If we don’t make that play, they got a guy at second and third with two outs and who knows what happens but it worked and it went our way.”
Johnsonburg had a strong threat in the home half of the second but ultimately left the bases loaded. Zac Luhr led off the inning with a double to left center field. Quinn Luhr walked and after two strikeouts, Jesse Wolfe also walked. But a lineout to third base ended the threat.
In the sixth, Shae Best opened with a walk. After a Golden Tide strikeout, Shane Hoover hit into a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning.
“Overall, I don’t think we had an error,” coach Peterson said. “We played real good defense, that’s what we’ve been working toward. I said our defense is going to be one of our strong points this year. We finally rolled two after about two years so it’s coming, that’s what we’ve been working for.”
Curwensville had another 2-out threat in the seventh inning. After a flyout and groundout opened the inning, LaBorde doubled to right center field. Bloom was intentionally walked and Cole Peterson closed the game with a strikeout.
“[Kyle] Bloom, he was hitting the ball, that’s why I intentionally walked him,” coach Peterson said. “I think he would have poked one through there. He kept fouling them off there and got to a full count a bunch. I was up in the moment and took my chances with the other guy. It worked out well, I think it paid off.”
Curwensville was retired in order in the first, third and fifth innings.
Johnsonburg (1-1) is scheduled to travel and face Port Allegany today at 4:15 p.m.
Curwensville AB R H BI
Shae Best 2 0 0 0
Hunter McCracken 3 0 0 0
Shane Hoover 3 0 0 0
Boone McGary 3 0 1 0
Jesse Zorger 3 0 0 0
Garrett LaBorde 3 0 2 0
Kyle Bloom 2 0 1 0
Tanner Elensky 2 0 1 0
Shelby McGarry 0 0 0 0
Brad Coudriet 0 0 0 0
Totals 21 0 5 0
2B: LaBorde. SB: B. McGary.
Johnsonburg AB R H BI
Cole Peterson 3 0 0 0
Cameron Grumley 3 0 0 0
Mitchell Holmberg 3 0 0 0
Joe Holmberg 3 0 0 0
Zac Luhr 3 0 2 0
Quinn Luhr 1 0 1 1
Frank Kocjancic 3 0 0 0
Louie Imbrogno 2 0 0 0
Jesse Wolfe 1 0 0 0
Kyle Sheldon 0 1 0 0
Totals 22 1 3 1
2B: Z. Luhr. SB: M. Holmberg, Kocjancic, Sheldon.
R H E
Curwensville 000 000 0 - 0 5 3
Johnsonburg 000 100 x - 1 3 0
Curwensville IP H R BB K
LaBorde 6 3 1 3 7
Johnsonburg IP H R BB K
C. Peterson 7 5 0 2 6