Chucks hold on to defeat Owls in home opener, 5-3

PUNXSUTAWNEY — It wasn't pretty, but first-year manager Mike Dickey will take the Punxsy baseball team's 5-3 victory over Bradford in the season-opener Monday at Rich Kuntz Memorial Field in Punxsutawney.

"We don't give back wins," Dickey said. "There are no style points."

The Chucks led 4-0 through three innings before Punxsy's miscues on the base paths and errors in the field allowed the Owls to make things interesting.

Bradford had the tying run on first base during the final inning, but Punxsy relief pitcher Dane Baker induced a fly out to left field that ended the Owls' threat.

"It was a little closer than we wanted it to be, but we made the plays that we needed to at the end to finish it off," Dickey said.

Punxsy senior lefty Brodi Lowmaster was dominant Monday, striking out five through four innings. He didn't surrender a hit, walked two and allowed just one base runner to get past first base.

"Brodi was Brodi. That's what you get. That's why he started the game," Dickey said. "We expected that from him. He battles, and he's a gritty competitor. He had a nice outing."

Punxsy had eight hits, led by Taylor Neal's 2-for-4 performance. Six other Chucks had one hit, including Ty Zimmerman's RBI double in the third inning.

Both Jordan Mesoraco and Tyler Skerkavich drove in a run with a sacrifice fly and also singled. Devan Neal reached base four times and scored twice, and Zak Dickey, Lowmaster and Luke Janocha singled and scored during the game.

Manager Dickey took the good with the bad. While his whole lineup produced and his team's pitchers were solid, the Chucks were thrown out three times on the base paths and struck out looking four times.

Punxsy also scored just one run after the third inning.

"We just have to stay focused through the whole game," Dickey said. "We had a couple lapses and a couple base running snafus. We weren't aggressive enough at the plate."

Baker pitched the final three innings for Punxsy. He struck out four and walked three (one intentionally) while allowing three runs on four hits.

Bradford scored two runs during the fifth inning and added its third during the seventh inning. A Connor Borowski fly out ended the game.

"Dane struggled a little bit today finding the zone. He battled," Dickey said. "He knew he didn't have his best stuff, but he found a way to work through it. The bottom line is that we came out with a win."

Punxsy will play again at 4:15 p.m. today at home against Kittanning.

Dickey said that Janocha will get the start on the mound.

"I'm sure Luke is going to pound the strike zone," Dickey said. "I'm hoping we're going to see a little better execution and a little more aggressiveness at the plate."