Panthers win battle of BEC leaders

by Greg Ceilley
of The Review staff


JAKE STEINHARDT, Plymouth second baseman, makes an outstanding running catch down the right-field line on a pop fly to end the first baseball game Friday versus Kiel. PHS right fielder Isaac Fintak backs up Steinhardt. – Review photo by Greg Ceilley JAKE STEINHARDT, Plymouth second baseman, makes an outstanding running catch down the right-field line on a pop fly to end the first baseball game Friday versus Kiel. PHS right fielder Isaac Fintak backs up Steinhardt. – Review photo by Greg Ceilley PLYMOUTH – The Plymouth Panthers put themselves in position to win the undisputed Big East Conference baseball title with a pivotal win over Kiel, 5-4, in 11 innings here Friday.

Freshman catcher Will Birkholz drove in Jack Nytes with the winning run on a sacrifice fly in the top of the 11th. The game originally started on June 15 at Kiel but was suspended after three innings due to inclement weather.

The victory gave PHS a halfgame lead over Kiel in the BEC championship race. The Panthers improved to 15-3 in the league (17- 9 overall) and the Raiders slipped to 15-4 (16-9 overall).

In the nightcap of the doubleheader, PHS and Kiel battled to an 11-11 deadlock through 5½ innings before the game was called due to darkness. The contest is scheduled to resume Tuesday, July 12 at 4:30 p.m. at the PHS diamond.


WILL BIRKHOLZ of Plymouth hits a sacrifice fly to drive in Jack Nytes with the winning run in Friday’s baseball game one against Kiel. The Raider catcher is Austin Goehring. – Review photo by Greg Ceilley WILL BIRKHOLZ of Plymouth hits a sacrifice fly to drive in Jack Nytes with the winning run in Friday’s baseball game one against Kiel. The Raider catcher is Austin Goehring. – Review photo by Greg Ceilley PHS beat Kohler/Christian Saturday to go to 16-3 in the BEC, so if the Panthers down Kiel they will win the outright crown. The Raiders need a win to earn a share of the title with PHS.

“There was great defense and pitching by both teams. We were resilient and we kept our composure,” said Panther head coach Butch Cain.

“It was a team effort. Everyone stayed together. This team has come together real well this year which has been huge. Literally different guys have stepped up this year.”

Nytes led off the 11th with a walk. With Will Birkholz at the plate, Nytes stole second and advanced to third when a wild pitch ensued. Birkholz followed with his sacrifice fly which gave PHS a 5-4 lead.

Nytes, who relieved starting pitcher Jake Steinhardt in the ninth, struck out the first two batters in the bottom of the 11th. Jonathan Grundl followed with an infield single. Parker Brack pinch ran for Grundl.

Trent Nickel batted next and hit a pop fly just inside the right-field line which second baseman Jake Steinhardt made an outstanding catch which ended the marathon.

PHS led the contest 4-2 through three innings before it was halted. The Panthers grabbed a 3-0 lead in the first, sparked by Derek Schweiger’s two-run homer. The other run in the first scored on a wild pitch.

The Panthers tallied their fourth run in the third. Austin Struve scored from third when Derek Schweiger stole second base and the catcher’s throw to second was errant.

Kiel tied the game, 4-4, on Alex Winkel’s two-run double in the fifth.

Nytes earned the win – pitching the final three frames and allowing three hits with two walks and three strikeouts. Jake Steinhardt started and pitched the first eight innings and gave up four earned runs on six hits with four walks and nine strikeouts.

“Our defense played amazing and our pitchers pitched a heck of a game,” said Struve, senior third baseman.

“I’m proud of our team. It’s been a 100-percent team effort this year,” said Struve.

“Jake pitched strong and Jack did a nice job finishing up,” said Cain. “They hit their spots pretty well. The pitchers and Will worked together well.”

The losing hurler was Alex Winkel who threw the last 2-2/3 innings and gave up one earned run on no hits with three walks and two strikeouts. Reliever Jonathan Meyer fanned a whopping 11 batters in only five innings.

Schweiger led PHS in hits and RBIs with two each. Winkel had a team-high three hits and RBIs apiece.


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