Johnston’s offense couldn’t solve La Salle’s Ryan Ramos in its season opener on Saturday afternoon, as the Rams’ senior right-hander tossed a complete-game shutout in a 5-0 La Salle victory.
Panthers’ ace pitcher Zack Clesas matched Ramos for the first three frames, but Johnston let some scoring opportunities fall by the wayside over that stretch.
Frank Heredia singled in the first inning, and Dante Parisi followed with a walk to put two runners on, but Ramos buckled down and recorded a strikeout to escape the inning unscathed.
The Panthers couldn’t get a runner home from third in the top of the fourth, either.
Parisi singled before advancing to third on a stolen base and a wild pitch. But, Ramos was able to bear down again, recording another strikeout to get his team back in the dugout.
Those lost chances proved costly in the bottom half of the fourth, as the Rams were able to manufacture three runs.
With one down in the inning, Brandon Taylor, Peter Rouse and Sean Gill strung together three consecutive singles, with Gill’s base knock plating Taylor for the game’s first run.
Rouse then raced home when Gill stole second and the throw from Andrew Clesas was mishandled by Heredia at shortstop, making it 2-0.
Gill then came home on a wild pitch to cap the scoring in the inning.
Up until that fourth inning, Zack Clesas hadn’t surrendered a hit.
The Rams got their offense going again in the bottom of the sixth, when junior second baseman Kyle Davenport ripped a single to right-centerfield, scoring Sean Dandeneau and Rouse to up the lead to 5-0.
Zack Clesas exited the game after tossing 5 2/3 innings, allowing five runs on seven hits to go along with three strikeouts. Junior right-hander Spencer Dunham entered out of the bullpen and recorded the final out of the sixth, when Andrew Clesas threw out a La Salle baserunner trying to steal.
Dylan Lavoie singled in the top of the seventh for Johnston in an attempt to mount a rally, but Ramos didn’t let anyone else reach base to secure the victory.
The Panthers were looking to get in the win column on Wednesday against five-time defending state champion Bishop Hendricken (1-0), but results from that game were unavailable at press time.
The Panthers are also set to travel to Cumberland to take on the Clippers on Friday afternoon at 4 p.m.