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Jamestown’s Nate Johnson chases on a second-inning RBI single in the Tarp Skunks’ 2-0 out-of-league win over Olean on Thursday at Diethrick Park. It would end up being Jamestown’s only hit in the game. PJ Photo by Matt Spielman

Prior to becoming head baseball coach at SUNY Fredonia, Jordan Basile recruited Nate Johnson from Jamestown Community College.

It turned out to be the right decision.

All Johnson has done this spring has been lead the Jayhawks in hits, batting average, slugging on base hits and added base hits.

Basil made another recruiting pitch to the Lakewood resident on Monday, just three days before Jamestown opens its Perfect Game College Baseball League season.

Let’s just say Tarp Skunks manager Basil beats 1,000 when it comes to assessing Johnson’s diamond value.

Nate Johnson smiles as he returns to first base. PJ Photo by Matt Spielman

All the Southwestern Central School graduate did on Thursday was punch a single in the second inning – Jamestown’s only hit of the game – steal a base and make two outs and five defensive passes to urge the Tarp Skunks to a 2-0 non-league victory. on Olean at Diethrick Park on Thursday night.

“We knew Nate was a great player” Basil. “I never had any doubts. … We lost a few guys and the first guy I thought to call would be Nate Johnson. Nate stepped in and didn’t miss a beat, I’ll tell you. …. He did a very good job.

Added Johnson, who started at second base: “I felt confident going into it. I knew I had plenty of guys around me to pick me up in case something went wrong. The good thing was that nothing was wrong. I had a few games and I had success.

With Jamestown’s offense barely operating at maximum efficiency – Johnny Kampes’ sacrificial third-inning volley was the only other run the hosts could muster – his throwing was stellar. Starter and winner Ian Korn, and relievers Eddie Galatas, Warren, Ryan Rafalski and Eric Crouse of Pennsylvania, who were credited with the save, limited the Oilers to four hits and combined for 10 strikeouts.

“I have seen great things from the pitchers” said Basil. “We are convinced that we will launch well throughout the year. The bats will come. It’s the first game of the year. I think a lot of guys… haven’t thrown a wood in a while and it takes a while to get going. We are convinced that they will be able to get things done.

Jamestown Tarp Skunks starting pitcher Ian Korn delivers at home plate in the first inning of a non-league game against the Olean Oilers on Thursday at Diethrick Park. PJ Photo by Matt Spielman

The game featured plenty of talent from Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania.

In addition to Rafalski, who walked one and caused a double ground ball play on his no-hitter outing, Warren’s Ben Berdine and Michael Grosch saw action for Olean, who plays in New York Collegiate Baseball League. Berdine, one of seven Oilers pitchers, worked two-thirds of an inning, struck out two and walked one; and Grosch, the starting third baseman, appeared in all four of his plate appearances. Kennedy native Matthew Gullotti also saw time out of Olean’s bullpen, walking a walk and recording a strikeout in two-thirds of an inning.

“There were a ton of local guys” said Basil. “It just shows the kind of talent in this area.”

On opening night, it was time for Johnson to shine. In the stands to see it all were Nelson and Melissa, Johnson’s parents.

“My mother gave me a big hug after the game” Johnson said with a smile.

It was clear that one of the new team members over “kissed” the occasion in the debut of his Tarp Skunks.

Jamestown will be back in action today when they travel to Niagara Falls for a 5:30 p.m. game at Sal Maglie Stadium. The expected starting pitcher is Los Angeles native Pat DeMarco. DeMarco is the nephew of locals Christine and Tom Yocum.

NOTES: Three Chautauqua County residents participated in the pre-game ceremonies – Art Asquith of Cassadaga, New York, Roger MacTavish of Jamestown and John Venable of Gerry, New York – who are veterans of the Jamestown-Olean PONY League battles in the 1950s. Asquith, 93, was a pitcher/outfielder for Olean in 1953. A retired teacher and coach, Asquith worked in the Cassadaga Valley Central School District for 50 years; MacTavish, 88, was a catcher for Olean in 1954 and 1955. A retired basketball umpire, he umpired games for 65 years; and Venable was a pitcher for the Jamestown Falcons in 1955. Originally from Arkansas, he married a girl from Jamestown and made that area his home. He is a retired entrepreneur.

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