Panthers back on track with lopsided win

MATT OLIG of Plymouth races around third base to score on Jake Steinhardt’s triple in Saturday’s baseball game versus Port Washington. – Photo by Janeen Cain MATT OLIG of Plymouth races around third base to score on Jake Steinhardt’s triple in Saturday’s baseball game versus Port Washington. – Photo by Janeen Cain PLYMOUTH – After two straight disappointing losses, the Plymouth Panthers needed to right the ship. They got back on track here Saturday afternoon with an 11-2 rout over Port Washington in a nonconference baseball game.

The Panthers ended the regular season with a 20-7 record. The Pirates finished 10-17 heading into the playoffs.

“It was good to get back on track in preparation for the playoffs. We did well in all facets,” said Panther head coach Butch Cain.

“It was good to see the team come together in the last game of the regular season.”

The Panthers were sharp on offense, defense and on the mound – a sharp contrast to their poor performances against West Bend East and New Holstein on Thursday and Friday, respectively. Saturday, the Panthers banged out 10 hits and made only one error, and their pitching duo of Zac Cain and Holden Reilly combined for a four-hitter.

The Panthers busted the game open with an eight-run explosion in the bottom of the second inning which gave them an 11-2 lead. Jake Steinhardt’s three-run triple ignited the uprising. TJ Moegenburg drilled a two-run double, Matt Olig and Zach Gambrell had RBI singles and Cain hit a sacrifice fly.

Gambrell and Cain led PHS in hits with two each. Cain and Steinhardt had a team-high three RBIs apiece. Gambrell, Schweiger and Tyler Willeford led in runs with two each.

Cain was the winning pitcher. He started and went four innings – allowing one earned run on only one hit with four strikeouts and just one walk. Freshman Holden Reilly, called up from the junior varsity, pitched the final three frames and gave up one earned run on three hits with two walks, a hit batter and one strikeout.

“Zac and Holden did a good job of keeping people off the bases and our defense made plays behind them,” said coach Cain.

“Holden did a good job in his first varsity game. He threw strikes and let his defense work behind him.”

Kayle Knaub led the Pirates in hits with two.

The losing pitcher was starter Austin Thape who allowed nine runs (eight earned) on six hits with four walks and no strikeouts in only 1-2/3 innings. Pirate pitching issued six walks and recorded three strikeouts.

Coach Cain is confident his team can do well in the playoffs if it continues to improve and if everyone in the lineup makes contributions.

“We like our chances of hopefully playing deep in the tournament [postseason]. When we pitch well and play solid defense, we seem to have the ability to come up with clutch hits,” said the coach.

The Panthers earned a No. 1 seed in their sectional and will host Sheboygan Lutheran/Kohler in the regional finals Friday at 5:30 p.m. PHS received a first-round bye in the regional.

Lutheran/Kohler defeated Random Lake, 7-2, in the first round Tuesday night. Noah Fink struck out an impressive 16 batters and fired a two-hitter to earn the win.

A five-run third inning sparked the Crusaders’ win. The key hits in the outburst were Jacob Berg’s tworun single and Brady Stefanczyk’s two-run double.

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