Panthers’ successful season ends in state semfinals

by Greg Ceilley of The Review staff


ZAC CAIN of Plymouth dives back safely to first as Franklin first baseman Drew Reinick attempts a tag in the fourth inning of the state baseball game Friday. – Review photo by Greg Ceilley ZAC CAIN of Plymouth dives back safely to first as Franklin first baseman Drew Reinick attempts a tag in the fourth inning of the state baseball game Friday. – Review photo by Greg Ceilley MEQUON – Plymouth scratched and clawed the whole game but Franklin’s red-hot bats proved to be too much for the Panthers who fell, 11-4, in the state summer baseball tournament semifinals Friday at Kapco Park on the campus of Concordia University.

The Sabers banged out 16 hits, including five triples, and were led on offense by senior shortstop Jacob Gain’s five RBIs and junior right fielder Parker Plume’s three hits.

“The staff is very proud of all of our guys. They fought hard and didn’t let up until the final pitch of another successful season,” said Panther head coach Butch Cain whose team won Eastern Wisconsin Conference and sectional titles.

“Zac [Cain, starting pitcher] didn’t have his best pop or command and to Franklin’s credit they hit the ball hard. We didn’t have time to establish our rhythm or confidence, down early.


COLE KARCZEWSKI, Plymouth second baseman, fires the ball to first to complete a 5-4-3 double play in the fifth inning of Friday’s state baseball semifinals against Franklin. The Sabers’ Jacob Gain is forced out at second. – Review photo by Greg Ceilley COLE KARCZEWSKI, Plymouth second baseman, fires the ball to first to complete a 5-4-3 double play in the fifth inning of Friday’s state baseball semifinals against Franklin. The Sabers’ Jacob Gain is forced out at second. – Review photo by Greg Ceilley “We brought a few different guys to the hill to give them different looks but we couldn’t slow their offense. We knew they would hit the ball and they were able to find some gaps for extra base hits,” said coach Cain.

The Panthers, who lost in the state semifinals last year to eventual champion Brookfield Central, finished their season at 23-8.

Franklin advanced to the championship game Friday night and lost to Menomonee Falls, 11-0. Lukas Kell twirled a fivehit shutout. The Sabers ended their season at 27-8. Menomonee Falls chalked up a 28-7 mark.


JACK SACKET, Plymouth center fielder, lines out to Franklin pitcher Joe Fortman in the third inning of Friday’s state baseball game. The Saber catcher is Jacob Behlendorf and the umpire is John Hemauer. – Review photo by Greg Ceilley JACK SACKET, Plymouth center fielder, lines out to Franklin pitcher Joe Fortman in the third inning of Friday’s state baseball game. The Saber catcher is Jacob Behlendorf and the umpire is John Hemauer. – Review photo by Greg Ceilley The Sabers jumped on Cain, the Panthers’ ace, for back-toback hits to start the game on a single by Mike Davis, followed by Parker Plume’s double down the left-field line which advanced Davis to third. Jacob Gain batted next and drove in Davis with a sacrifice fly which gave Franklin a 1-0 lead.

PHS missed a chance to tie the game in the bottom of the second inning. Cole Karczewski led off with an infield single and moved to second on Matt Olig’s ensuing sacrifice bunt. Karczewski was stranded at second when pitcher Joe Fortman retired the next two batters.


TYLER WILLEFORD, Plymouth catcher, tries to tag Franklin’s Kyle Cortez before he reaches home plate in the sixth inning of Friday’s state baseball game. Cortez scored on a wild pitch. Pitcher Jake Steinhardt covers home. The umpire is John Hemauer. – Review photo by Greg Ceilley TYLER WILLEFORD, Plymouth catcher, tries to tag Franklin’s Kyle Cortez before he reaches home plate in the sixth inning of Friday’s state baseball game. Cortez scored on a wild pitch. Pitcher Jake Steinhardt covers home. The umpire is John Hemauer. – Review photo by Greg Ceilley Score by Innings Franklin................102 005 3 – 11 16 2 Plymouth..............000 011 2 – 4 9 2

Joe Fortman, Ryan Busalacchi (6) and Jacob Behlendorf; Zac Cain, Derek Schweiger (4), Jake Steinhardt (6), Zach Gambrell (6) and Tyler Willeford. W – Fortman. L – Cain. 2Bs – Franklin, Parker Plume, Malik Flores; Plymouth, Cain. 3Bs – Franklin, Plume 2, Jacob Gain 2, Sammy Harmeyer. HR – Plymo_ uth, Matt Olig.

Franklin upped its advantage to 3-0 with two runs in the third with two outs. Plume tripled with one away and scored on Jacob Behlendorf’s base hit. Drew Schwartz, courtesy running for catcher Behlendorf, later came home on Sammy Harmeyer’s single.

PHS threatened in the fourth but came up empty. The Panthers loaded the bases with two outs but Fortman wiggled out of the jam by inducing a groundout.

The Panthers shaved the deficit to 3-1 in the fifth. Derek Schweiger rapped a leadoff single and was lifted for courtesy runner Holden Reilly. Pinch hitter TJ Moegenburg batted next and laid down a bunt but Reilly was forced out at second, with Moegenburg reaching on a fielder’s choice.

Tyler Willeford stepped up to the plate next and hit into a fielder’s choice which forced out Moegenburg at second. Zach Gambrell followed with a base hit which advanced Willeford to second. Cain then lashed a single to center field which knocked in Willeford.

The Sabers busted the game open with five runs in the sixth on hits as they built an 8-1 cushion. The key hit was David Schmidt’s two-run single.

PHS answered with a run in its half of the sixth on Olig’s home run over the right-field fence which made it an 8-2 game.

Franklin tallied three runs in the seventh on Gain’s triple to go up 11-2. All three runs were unearned due to a PHS error.

The never-say-die Panthers tallied two runs in the seventh. Cain hammered an RBI double which plated Alex Krueger. Taylor Struve, pinch running for Cain, scored on a throwing error by the third baseman.

Cain, Karczewski and Schweiger led PHS in hits with two each. Cain had a team-high two RBIs.

“We played a tough team, a good team. We didn’t capitalize on our hits as much as we could’ve. They put guys on and then they brought them in and that was kind of a big killer,” said Willeford, the Panthers’ senior catcher and leadoff batter.

“They’re [Franklin’s batters are] really aggressive and anything that was in there they were going to hit. They were tough to pitch to.”

Franklin had a balanced attack with six batters contributing at least two hits. Mike Davis, Gain, Harmeyer, Malik Flores and Schmidt cracked two hits each. Schmidt also had two RBIs.

“We just relaxed out there and did what we did all year. It definitely helped getting off to an early lead,” said Plume.

“We’re a fastball-hitting team and that’s what Cain was throwing. I thought if we could get three or four runs off him that we could win the ball game,” said Saber head coach Jim Hughes.

“We got off to a good start and that was huge. He [Cain] likes to throw the high fastball, and we talked about laying off that pitch and we did. It’s real hard to lay off that pitch,” said Hughes who has coached high school baseball for 43 years.

Fortman was the winning pitcher. The senior allowed one run (earned) on six hits with two walks and one strikeout in five innings.

Cain took the loss – surrendering three runs (all earned) on seven hits with no walks and four strikeouts in just three innings.

“Our offense was able to put the ball in play, we just weren’t able to string enough baserunners together,” coach Cain noted.

“Franklin made some nice plays to take away a few base hits and playing from behind we were not allowed the option of being as aggressive as we like to be on the bases.

“The Panther defense made the sure plays. The quick turf [synthetic grass] allowed some balls to scoot through the infield and gaps which enabled the Sabers to string some extra-base hits together in the second and sixth innings, proving our deficit too big to overcome.

“Franklin played well and was the better team today but take nothing away from the Panthers’ effort or belief in one another,” added the Panther coach.


Readers Comments

Awesome season! Very proud
Submitted by mhughes91@wi.rr.com (not verified) on Tue, 2015-07-28 21:33.
Awesome season! Very proud of this team and their great effort. Thanks team for another memorable year.
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