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Perfect Start

Clymer/Sherman/Panama Continues Undefeated Run

A late throw gets away from Chautauqua Lake’s Tate Olson as Clymer/Sherman/Panama’s Blake Kopta slides safely into home during Friday’s CCAA Division 2 West game in Mayville. Next, the Wolfpack’s Derek Sears delivers a pitch. P-J photos by Matt Spielman

MAYVILLE — Clymer/Sherman/Panama’s football team has become a juggernaut on the gridion the past few seasons.

In its infancy on the diamond, the Wolfpack baseball program is off to a good start.

Derek Sears threw two-hit ball through five innings and C/S/P used a pair of big innings to take a comfortable lead en route to a 9-0 shutout of Chautauqua Lake in Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association Division 2 West action Friday.

“Derek did a really good job on the mound. I preach to all of my pitchers to attack the zone and don’t waste pitches,” C/S/P head coach Jake Marino said. “We are in a sprint of a season so go right at guys. Throw a lot of strikes and let our defense play.”

The Wolfpack improved to 4-0 overall and in the league on the season.

“The big thing is our leadership,” Marino said about his team’s impressive start. “We have some really good seniors, and other guys who are leading the team, who come out and are ready to attack every single day.”

The Thunderbirds, meanwhile, continued an up-and-down season, falling to 5-3 overall and 2-3 in the league.

“We are searching for consistency,” Chautauqua Lake head coach Bryan Bongiovanni said, “not so much physical, but the mental piece.”

Clymer and Sherman were a merged program the last time baseball was played during the 2019 season, but Panama was its own team. That isn’t the case anymore as all three make up the Wolfpack, and are playing at the Class C level this spring.

“These guys have been playing football together for a while now,” Marino said. “These guys all know each other, they are best friends on and off the field, so they have real good chemistry.”

C/S/P wasted no time taking the lead Friday as Austin White led off the game with a double to right-center field and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Sears before a dropped throw allowed White to score on the play.

The Wolfpack added four runs in the second inning thanks to three hits and an error by the Thunderbirds. Kurtis Olsen led off with a single to center field and went to third on Blake Kopta’s one-out single to left field. After a stolen base and a walk, Sears hit a two-out, two-run single to center field.

“The other team is going to score runs, but it’s about limiting that and doing some damage control,” Bongiovanni said. “Once you start giving up multiple three- or four-run innings, it’s going to be a challenge to come back.”

Chautauqua Lake’s second pitcher of the day entered and induced a groundball, but an error allowed C/S/P’s third run of the inning to score. After a wild pitch and a hit batter, Micah Willink walked to force in a run and make it 5-0.

Gabe Roth walked with the bases loaded in the third inning to force in the Wolfpack’s sixth run before a three-run fourth inning. Willink was hit by a pitch and stole second before Keith Gormley reached on a one-out error. Willink then scored on an errant pickoff throw from the catcher before Kopta drove in a run and reached on an error ahead of a walk to No. 9 hitter Ian Dunnewold. The Thunderbirds’ third pitcher entered and gave up an infield single before an RBI fielder’s choice by Roth.

“Right now, we are struggling to take pride in the little things. That’s often the difference in these games,” Bongiovanni said. “If you look at the book, these little things add up. Before you know it, you are down six or 7-0 and the other team hasn’t really done much.”

As it turned out, the first run was enough for Sears, who stymied a Chautauqua Lake offense that scored nine runs Wednesday in Frewsburg. Sears struck out three and walked two.

“They are making pitches,” Marino said of his pitching staff. “That’s the great thing about baseball: you can make a mistake and it can still be an out.”

Nate Engdahl, Kalen Miller, Luke Waters, Jaylen Parkhurst and Tate Olson combined to strike out 10, but walked seven and hit three batters for the Thunderbirds, who will look to get back in the win column Monday at home against Maple Grove.

“Baseball is a simple game if you can make it that,” Bongiovanni said. “If you throw strikes, you make the routine plays in the field and you put the ball in play to make the other team earn it on the defensive side, those are the teams that are successful.”

C/S/P, meanwhile, will put its unblemished record on the line that same afternoon in Sinclairville against Cassadaga Valley.

“The coaches are working really well together. We all have the same menality and the same philosophy about baseball,” Marino said. “It’s been really seamless.”

NOTES: Lawson Ormsby and Waters each had a single for Chautauqua Lake. … White finished with three hits, including a double, and also threw the final two innings for the Wolfpack, striking out three.

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