Panthers earn third straight EWC crown

PLYMOUTH – The Plymouth Panthers wrapped up their third consecutive undisputed Eastern Wisconsin Conference baseball title with a 12-2 rout in game two of Tuesday’s doubleheader against visiting Kewaskum.

Kewaskum, which won the opener, 3-1, needed a sweep to move into a tie for the EWC lead. The Panthers are 15-2 in the league (19-6 overall). The Indians are in second place at 13-4 (15-10 overall). Both teams have one EWC game remaining.

“I’m proud of the guys. We accomplished one of our goals which was to win the conference championship,” said Panther head coach Butch Cain.

“Everybody has made contributions this season – up and down the lineup on offense and defense. And we’ve had different guys give us good contributions on the mound.”

In the nightcap, the Panthers seized a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning and tacked on runs in each of the next three frames to build a 12-0 lead. The game, a makeup of a rainout on June 22, was called after 4½ innings due to the 10-run rule.

In the PHS first, Zac Cain, Matt Olig and Drew Schweiger drew walks to load the bases. Jake Steinhardt delivered a tworun single. The other two runs scored on an infield error.

The Panthers tallied four more in the second on Drew Schweiger’s two-run single, Derek Schweiger’s RBI single and Cole Karczewski’s sacrifice fly which made it an 8-0 game.

PHS scored three times in the third to go up 11-0. Tyler Willeford tripled and scored on Zach Gambrell’s single. Karczewski and Jake Steinhardt drove in the other two runs with a base hit and a fielder’s choice, respectively.

Willeford capped off the PHS onslaught with a solo homer – his first of the season – in the fourth.

The Panthers banged out 11 hits, led by Willeford, Gambrell, Karczewski and Steinhardt with two each. Steinhardt had a teamhigh three RBIs.

Willeford paced his team in runs with three. Gambrell, Olig and TJ Moegenburg scored twice each.

Cain earned a complete-game victory. The senior right-hander allowed two earned runs on six hits with one walk, four strikeouts and one hit batter.

“I was pleased to get on the board right away and we kept the pressure them by scoring in every inning,” said coach Cain.

“We had a real nice approach at the plate. We put the ball in play and took what they gave us.

The coach thought Willeford, Gambrell, Karczewski and Steinhardt hit the ball real well. Coach Cain said his son, Zac, located all of his pitches [fastball, curve and change-up] well.

Billie Lehmann led the Indians in hits with two.

Kewaskum pitching walked seven batters and struck out five.

GAME ONE

Mike Prochnow twirled a three-hitter in posting the win in the opener. Prochnow yielded one earned run and three walks while striking out five.

“Prochnow worked the corners pretty well and used all three of his pitches [fastball, curve and change-up] very effectively,” coach Cain pointed out.

Kewaskum broke a 1-1 tie with two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning on Matt Hetebrueg’s looping single to left field.

PHS grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first. Willeford hit a leadoff double and moved to third on Gambrell’s sacrifice bunt. Cain’s groundout knocked in Willeford.

The Indians tied the game in the third on an RBI single by Dean Schlice.

PHS threatened in the sixth when Cain and Karczewski drew walks with one away. Two groundouts left the runners stranded.

Derek Schweiger was the losing pitcher but had a solid outing. He gave up three earned runs on seven hits with three walks and a strikeout in five innings. Steinhardt threw a scoreless frame in relief and had one strikeout.

“Derek pitched well. We just didn’t give him enough support,” said coach Cain.

“Our defense was good enough to support the pitching.”

The only other hits for PHS were a single each by Gambrell and Drew Schweiger.

Prochnow and Devyn Zillmer led Kewaskum in hits with two each.


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