Written & Media by Joseph Hubbs.
This past weekend the Panthers took two out of three games against Fontbonne, claiming another series win against a fellow SLIAC team.
The Panthers started the series in fine fashion on Friday at home, defeating the Griffins 14-7. However, the ball game was not the pounding that the final score suggests. In an otherwise solid first inning from starting pitcher Dylan Bone, an infield error caused an unearned run to score. As walks piled up for the Griffins they were able to score five more runs in the next two innings, going up 6-0 before the Panthers chance to bat in the third. Finally, in the bottom of the third, the Panthers were able to get runners on base, and a three run homer by junior first baseman, Jared Storment, cut the lead in half. After a scoreless frame pitched by Bone, the Panthers scored three more runs in the fourth inning. Scoring plays included an RBI single by junior shortstop, Dalton McFarland, a sacrifice fly by senior left fielder, Mitchell Cernek, and a walk RBI by Storment to tie the game at six runs apiece. In relief of Bone, sophomore, Dillon Reel came in and pitched a
scoreless 5th inning. When the Panthers picked up the bats in the bottom of the inning, something must have clicked because they erupted for six more runs. Sophomore third baseman, Tommie Brown, got things started with an RBI double. Then, with the bases loaded sophomore, center fielder Tim Osborne had a clutch single to bring in two more runs. Already inducing a pitching change, the Panthers had gone up 9-6 before Storment’s next at-bat. With two runners on, Storment connected for his second homerun of the day, again bringing home three more runs. Fontbonne would add one more run on an RBI single by right fielder, Zach Carel, and the Panthers scrapped two more runs from the Griffins in the bottom of the eighth. For the Panthers Reel would get the win, allowing one run and striking out two in two innings. Panthers’ senior, Michael Wittmer also pitched a scoreless inning, and sophomore closer, Nick Bifano pitched the last two innings striking out one batter and only allowing one hit. Sophomore catcher, Trevor Montgomery also had a good game at the plate, hitting 1.000 on the day with one walk and three runs scored.
On Saturday the Panthers finished up the series against Fontbonne, splitting a double header on the road. As double header rules work in the conference, the first game is only seven innings and the second game is nine. Both teams deemed these inning minimums unnecessary as they took each game to extra innings. In the first game the Panthers battled for a 6-5 victory in eight innings. Again, the Panthers started from behind and were down 1-0 until the top of the fourth inning when Montgomery hit a two run homer to give the Panthers a one run lead. Fontbonne answered back in the fifth and sixth innings, taking advantage of a sloppy defense. Four unearned runs by the Griffins put the Panthers in a bind, down by three in the final (7th) inning. Fontbonne opted to keep in their starter, Tanner Carter for a complete game. However, having seen his pitching all game, the Panthers finally clicked at the plate and loaded the bases. A clutch RBI single by Montgomery and a two run double by Brown tied the game up for the Panthers and sent it to extra innings. In the eighth inning Bifano singled in the go ahead run in the top half, and closed the game with a scoreless frame in the bottom half. Bifano would get the win, striking out two in two innings.
The second contest of the double header proved a little more difficult. Taking the ballgame to 11 innings, the Panthers eventually fell 4-3 in the final game of the series. However, with wins in the first two contests, the Panthers won their third straight series against a SLIAC team and improve to a solid 7-3 conference record.