Panthers clinch EWC title


ERIC LEINEN (5), Plymouth senior pitcher, is congratulated by head coach Butch Cain (second from left) and other Panther team members after he shut out Kiel, 4-0, in the nightcap of Friday’s baseball twinbill. — Photo by Craig Hoffman, Tri-County News ERIC LEINEN (5), Plymouth senior pitcher, is congratulated by head coach Butch Cain (second from left) and other Panther team members after he shut out Kiel, 4-0, in the nightcap of Friday’s baseball twinbill. — Photo by Craig Hoffman, Tri-County News KIEL – The Plymouth Panthers wrapped up the outright Eastern Wisconsin Conference baseball championship Friday with a doubleheader sweep against host Kiel.

PHS won the opener, 8-2, and the nightcap, 4-0. The EWC title is the Panthers’ first since 2004 when they shared it with Kiel. The Panthers’ previous undisputed league crown was in 1991.

“We feel pretty good about it. The kids worked hard to accomplish that goal,” said Panther head coach Butch Cain about winning the EWC title.

“Our experience has helped. We were in the stretch run last year [contending for the EWC crown] and being so close made them hungry this year. It’s been a total team effort.”

The Panthers finished third in the conference a year ago but were in contention for first place going into the final week of the season.

The Panthers improved to 15-0 in the EWC (18-2 overall) and ran their winning streak to 18. The Raiders dropped to 2-9 in the league (4-13 overall).

Senior Eric Leinen fired a fourhit shutout in game two. Leinen walked only one and struck out two.

“Eric worked hard. He made some key adjustments in his delivery [due to the mound condition] and kept the ball down in the zone,” said Cain.

Leinen faced only 25 batters – four over the minimum.

“Our defense was excellent. Overall, it was a well-played game.”

PHS grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the the third inning. Leinen singled with one out and later scored on a dropped fly ball by the center fielder for an error off the bat of Clay Henning.

The Panthers added a run in the sixth and two in the seventh. In the sixth, Matt Rhude’s squeeze bunt plated Zac Cain. In the seventh, Henning scored on a passed ball and Cain’s sacrifice fly brought home Jake Richards.

Jordan Meyer pitched well in a losing cause. Meyer went the route and gave up only one earned run on six hits with three walks and eight strikeouts.

GAME ONE

Cain had three hits and three RBIs to spark the Panthers’ offense in the opener. PHS pounded out 13 hits. Henning and Luke Hojnacki contributed two hits each.

Henning also had two RBIs and a team-high three runs. Hojnacki added two runs. Tyler Willeford led in steals with a pair.

The Panthers built a 5-0 lead after three frames, keyed by a threerun second. PHS scored all of its runs in the second after the first two batters were retired. The key hits were Cain’s RBI single, followed by Held’s two-run double.

PHS busted the game open with three runs in the fifth to go up 8-0. Henning and Cain cracked RBI singles and Justin Picard hit a sacrifice fly.

Rhude was the starting and winning pitcher. He gave up two earned runs on only two hits with three walks and three whiffs in six innings.

“Matt pitched well and had a good mix of pitches,” said coach Cain.

“We had a good, balanced offense and a good defense.”

Nine Panthers contributed hits.

The losing hurler was starter Nathan Pieper who threw five innings – allowing eight runs (seven earned) on 12 hits with four walks and three strikeouts.

PLYMOUTH 8 4

KIEL 2 0

Game 1
Score by Innings
Plymouth................131 030 0 – 8 13 1
Kiel..........................000 020 0 – 2 2 1
Matt Rhude, Luke Held (7) and
Held, Rhude (7); Nathan Pieper, Nathan Voitek (6) and Zach Lensmire. W
– Rhude. L – Pieper. 2Bs – Plymouth,
Held, Eric Leinen.
Game 2
Score by Innings
Plymouth..................001 001 2 – 4 6 0
Kiel............................000 000 0 – 0 4 4
Leinen and Held; Jordan Meyer and
Terren Driscoll. W – Leinen. L – Meyer.


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