Panthers earn regional championship

by Greg Ceilley of The Review staff

TYLER WILLEFORD of Plymouth dives back to first safely as Oostburg first baseman Kyle Swart awaits the pitcher’s pickoff throw in Friday’s regional baseball finals. – Review photo by Greg Ceilley TYLER WILLEFORD of Plymouth dives back to first safely as Oostburg first baseman Kyle Swart awaits the pitcher’s pickoff throw in Friday’s regional baseball finals. – Review photo by Greg Ceilley PLYMOUTH – Junior Matt Olig threw six shutout innings and had two RBIs to spark the Plymouth Panthers to a 6-0 win over Oostburg in the regional baseball finals Friday evening at Loebe Field.

Olig surrendered only three hits, walked none, hit a batter and struck out five en route to the win. Zac Cain pitched a scoreless seventh with two strikeouts, no walks and zero hits allowed to close out the game.

“Matt pounded the [strike] zone, and having no walks was huge. Oostburg has good speed and we wanted to keep them off the bases,” said Panther head coach Butch Cain.

“It was a good, complete, wellplayed team game. We were pretty solid in all phases. We had timely hitting, and the pitching and defense were solid.

“I’m proud of the guys. This is a step closer to our objective to go to state,” said the coach.

“This is a huge win for us. We had a lot of confidence coming in,” said senior catcher Luke Held.

“We had a good overall game. If we play like we have been playing, we feel we can accomplish anything we want.

“I thought Matt pitched his spots tremendously and changed speeds nicely,” Held said. “We were both on the same page [calling pitches],” said Held.

The No. 1-seeded Panthers improved to 26-4 and extended their winning streak to 10. The Flying Dutchmen were a No. 9 seed.

The Panthers jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Tyler Willeford drew a one-out walk and stole second base. Zac Cain followed with a walk.

One out later, Jake Richards smashed a triple over the center fielder which knocked in Willeford and Held. Held had reached on a fielder’s choice.

PHS made it 3-0 in the third. Clay Henning led off with an infield single. Willeford then singled to center on a hit-and-run which advanced Henning to third. Cain followed with a sacrifice fly which drove in Henning.

The Panthers broke the contest open with a three-run fifth. Cain belted a one-out triple into the right-center gap. Held followed with a sharp single up the middle which knocked in Cain. With two outs, Held stole second and then Luke Hojnacki was hit by a pitch.

Olig batted next and came through in the clutch with a double down the left-field line which brought home Held and Hojnacki to make it 6-0.

Olig and Richards led PHS in RBIs with two each. Junior left fielder Cole Karczewski had a team-high two hits. Held led in runs with a pair.

“It was a good team effort. The team picked me up [on defense] when I got the ball up,” said Olig, a right-hander.

“It was good to get on the board first. That gave me a boost to keep their team off the board. Overall, I did a good job.

“I had good defense behind me. I tried to keep them off balance so they don’t sit on the fastball,” said Olig.

“We came up short last year [in the playoffs]. We’re hungry this year.”

The Panthers lost to Kewaskum in the sectional semifinals a year ago.

The Dutchmen had no batters with multiple hits. Jake Hurlbutt was the losing hurler and went the distance. Hurlbutt allowed six earned runs on eight hits with four walks, one hit batter and five strikeouts.

“Hurlbutt pitched a good game. He was around the plate and mixed his pitches well,” observed coach Cain.



Score by Innings
Oostburg..................000 000 0 – 0 3 0
Plymouth..................201 030 x – 6 8 1

Jake Hurlbutt and Jonah Frier; Matt Olig, Zac Cain (7) and Luke Held. W – Olig. L – Hurlbutt. 2B – Plymouth, Olig. 3Bs – Plymouth, Cain, Jake Richards.

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