ONTARIO, OR – After a fifteen year absence at the state baseball tournament the Snake River Panthers returned to the diamond on Thursday afternoon falling 9-3 to Kimberly in the first round of the year end event.
Call in nerves, karma or just bad luck but whatever it was an ill fated 7 run first inning put the Panthers behind the eight ball early and despite some valiant effort; Snake River was unable to overcome the large deficit, falling in a game that was much closer than the final score indicates.
“We hit the ball hard today and we got some great pitching from Shane [Parkinson] we just had way to many errors there in the first couple of innings,” Snake River skipper James Carter said. “If we just get a couple of breaks to go our way, we win this game today.”
It looked as if the breaks were going the Panther way early on as they struck for a pair of two-out runs in the opening frame. Braden Watt did what he has done all year for the Panthers from the lead off spot by finding a way onto first base with a four pitch walk.
After a pair of outs, clean up hitter Cody Dean strode to the plate and coolly swatted a RBI double for the games first run. On the next pitch, Cole Rushton plated Dean with an RBI single and the Panthers held a 2-0 lead.
“That’s why we have Braden and Cody where they are in the line up,” coach Carter said. “Braden does a great job leading off for us and Cody is a beast in the clean up spot.”
Indeed the duo had great days at the plate for the Panthers with Watt finishing with a pair of doubles and Dean lit a fire in the dugout with a towering solo home run in the top of the third inning.
Alas, offense was not a problem for the Panthers as they actually out hit the Bulldogs 8-7 on the day.
Unfortunatley a trio of errors, all in the first two innings of play proved costly as Kimberly took advantage to take a quick 9-2 lead.
As the defense settled down, starting pitcher Shane Parkinson got into a groove, holding the Bulldogs scoreless for the remainder of the contest while the Panther bats tried to mount a comeback.
The Panthers had their chances at the comeback but in the end the ball just wouldn’t find a hole in the Kimberly defense as Snake River stranded 8 runners over the course of the game.
With the loss Snake River falls into the left side of the bracket and will play the loser of Priest River and Fruitland today at 1 P.M.
“Like I told the kids, we proved that we can hit the ball with the best of them and I believe that our pitching depth is better than anyone else here in the tournament so I like our chances tomorrow and then again on Saturday,” coach Carter concluded.
KIMBERLY 9, SNAKE RIVER 3
Snake River 201 000 0 – 3 8 3
Kimberly 720 000 x – 9 7 1
Snake River hitters – Braden Watt 2-3 (2)2B, Cody Dean 2-4 2B,HR 2RBI, Cole Rushton 3-3; pitching – Shane Parkinson (L) 6IP 9R 5ER 7H 4K 3BB, Zane Stephenson 1IP 0R 0H 3K
Kimberly hitters – Ridge Lee 1-3 2B, Jordan Gentry 1-2 HR, James Higgeinbotham 2-3; pitching – Clay Mathews (W) 7IP 3R 3ER 8H 4K 1BB 3HP