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Thunderbirds open season with big win over Panama

April 7, 2016
Westfield Republican

RIPLEY (April 1) - Chautauqua Lake made sure its baseball season debut was a memorable one.

The Thunderbirds' Tyler Meredith struck out eight in three innings of work, and his teammates scored eight runs in the second inning for him, as Chautauqua Lake (1-0) cruised to a 21-0 win over the Panama Panthers (0-2) in a non-league game called after five innings.

Meredith gave up just one hit, a first-inning single to Tristen Frye, and one walk on his way to the win. Adam Erickson, the Thunderbirds' head coach, said Meredith did what he is supposed to do on the mound.

Article Photos

Photos by Lisa Monacelli
Chautauqua Lake’s Tyler Meredith delivers a pitch against Panama. The Thunderbirds defeated the Panthers, 21-0, in five innings.

"He's the captain, we expect that stuff out of him," Erickson said of the junior. "Being one of the guys we're going to lean on a lot, he knows he has to get better, so hopefully this is a step in that direction."

After Frye's one-out hit, he advanced to third on two wild pitches, but Meredith settled down to strike out Tony Frangione and Josh Eddy. Chautauqua Lake then scored two runs in the bottom of the inning.

The Thunderbirds' offense really poured it on in the bottom of the second, sending 11 batters to the plate. Drew Gleason and Collin Sargent walked, and Jake Simora got hit by a pitch to load the bases with no one out. An odd play followed to make it 5-0. Avery Webb singled to center, drawing a throw to the plate. Gleason ran into Panthers' catcher Tanner Newman on the way home and was shaken up, never touching the plate.

But the umpire ruled catcher interference, awarding Gleason the run. In the confusion that ensued, Sargent and Simora also scored.

Mike Lisek then drove in Webb with a double, Devin Pope made it to first base on an error that sent Lisek to third, and after Pope took second base on defensive indifference, Meredith singled both Lisek and Pope home. Meredith then took third on Kyler Majka's single, and both of those players scored when Gleason, up for the second time in the inning, singled to make the score 10-0.

While Chautauqua Lake scored six more runs in the fourth inning and five in the fifth, the Panthers were unable to get a run home. Their best chance to score was in the fourth inning, with Pope pitching for the Thunderbirds. Frangione walked, Eddy reached on an error, and Newman singled to left field to load the bases with no one out. But Pope got a strikeout and a double play to wiggle out of trouble.

"We've got to capitalize on instances when we have bases loaded," said Evan TeCulver, Panama's head coach. "We're just not finishing. We've got to come out with the attitude that we want to make plays, that we're going to make the big plays, but we're just not there yet. We will be."

The coach defended his pitcher, Lucas Golden.

"Golden pitched a solid game, he threw strikes the entire game, (Chautauqua Lake) was just hitting them," he said. "Our defense just couldn't capitalize on the balls that were hit at them."

Erickson said Friday's victory was a step toward building a team that never lets up.

"They've got to realize that whether they're up 20 or down by 2, you've got to make sure you keep the pedal to the metal," he said. "We really, really try in the batting cage to focus on fundamentals and bring those fundamentals to the game. They've been doing well. If they buy into what we're trying to teach them, it'll be good."



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