Charleroi starts on winning note
CHARLEROI – The Charleroi Magicians could not have asked for a better opening to their 2004 Fayette County Legion campaign.
The Magicians scored early and often Wednesday in dismantling visiting Connellsville, 13-5.
Make that defending league-champion Connellsville.
“This is a good way to start off the season,” Magicians manager Tom Hartman said. “We have struggled with them for years and they are always the team everyone wants to beat.
“Hopefully this win will set the stage for the rest of the year.”
Charleroi pounded out 13 hits in the win. Mitch Pankiewicz led the way with a single, double and home run.
Recording two hits each were Dan Thomas (double, home run), Mike McCurry (single, double), and Chris Chacko (two singles).
“I am very happy with how we hit the ball,” Hartman said. “I was pleasantly surprised at how Mitch hit the ball. He gave us a boost.”
It didn’t take long for the hosts to jump out to a quick 3-0 lead.
After McCurry and Eugene Lancas led off with back-to-back singles, Thomas hit a three-run homer to left field.
In the third inning, Charleroi tacked on five runs to make the score 8-0.
After a Thomas double and a Bob Pacella single, Chris Chacko drove them in with a two-run single. Following a Pankiewicz single, McCurry doubled in two more runs.
The inning, however, was set up by a Connellsville error.
“That error set the tone,” Hartman said. “We kept it going after that.”
Errors almost hurt Charleroi in the fourth inning. The Magicians made five errors and allowed the guests to score five unearned runs.
Hartman would not hold his starting pitcher, Keith Carson, responsible for the runs.
“Keith pitched a good game and had great control,” Hartman said. “He gave up one single in the fourth inning. It wasn’t his fault.”
Carson went six innings, giving up four hits while striking out one batter and walking two.
“Keith got a little tired but he still came through for us,” Hartman added.
Carson confirmed the fatigue.
“At the end of the fifth inning, I knew that I was almost out of gas,” Carson said. “My arm was fine, it was my legs that were tired.”
Carson would not take any credit for his solid pitching. He said it was his teammates who should get the credit.
“It is easy and more relaxing to pitch when your offense put the runs on the board like they did today,” Carson said. “I am very happy to get that kind of support.”
Adam Zewe gave Carson two more runs to work with in the fourth inning with a double. The Charleroi lead was up to 10-5.
An inning later, after Chacko reached on an error, Pankiewicz nailed a two-run homer to left-center field to give the hosts a 12-5 lead.
“I almost had Mitch bunt there,” Hartman said with a smile. “I am glad he didn’t bunt.”
The score remained 12-5 until the seventh when Chacko scored on a Jason Grant sacrifice fly.
Ricky Bartman pitched the last three innings for Charleroi, giving up one hit.
Charleroi heads to Farmington Monday for a doubleheader. The first game starts at 1 p.m.