The EP Panther Baseball team headed to Rock Falls on Monday afternoon to battle the Rockets. Early Spring baseball weather in rarely perfect and Monday’s play on the field seemed to echo that. On their way to an 8-3 win the Rockets committed three errors, the Panthers made two. And although both teams had defensive gaffes it was the Panther’s pitching inability to find the strike zone that changed the game.
EP started the game on the right foot. Starting pitcher Reese Duncan got the day started offensively with a two out single in the top of the first inning. A following Rocket error allowed next batter Tucker VanDeWostine to reach base safely. An additional Rocket error allowed Duncan to score and VanDeWostine to advance to third. Zane Romero followed VanDeWostine’s at-bat with a single to right giving the Panthers an early 2-0 lead.
A top of the third Reese Duncan single started the Panthers offense again. Duncan would score the final Panthers run, after advancing to second on a ground ball, on Zane Romero second single of the day.
The Panther’s 3-0 lead was short lived as Rock Falls struck back in the bottom half of the inning. A lead off double, a Panthers error, an infield fly, a fielder’s choice and a walk all led up to a two-out bases clearing double by Rocket infielder Heald to tie the game at 3.
In the fourth inning the Rockets added another run to go up 4-3 heading into the sixth. The Rockets sixth inning started with a Panther error, a single and a walk combining to load the bases. Starter Reese Duncan struck out the next batter he faced before being pulled. With one out and the bases full, Panther reliever Tucker VanDeWostine found himself in a tight spot. Unfortunately he would hit the first batter he saw and fight his command the rest of the afternoon. Back-to-back-to-back walks helped the Rockets balloon their lead to 8-3 after five innings and ultimately end the game by the same score, 8-3.
Offensively for the Panthers Zane Romero went 3 for 3 at the plate to go with his 2 RBIs and Reece Duncan scored twice while going 2 for 4.
Panther pitchers Reece Duncan and Tucker VanDeWostine combined to allow 8 runs (2 earned), 7 hits, 6 strikeouts and 6 walks across 6 innings.
Coach Brad Tichler commented, “We competed early but had a few misplayed balls combined with some walks late, hurt us.”