ONTARIO, OR. – The Snake River Panthers wrapped up their 2011 season on Saturday morning, falling 7-5 to the Buhl Indians in the consolation championship played at Treasure Valley Community College in Ontario Oregon.
“Not the way that we wanted to end the season for sure but the kids came out and played their guts out,” Snake River head coach James Carter said. “We hit the ball hard and our defense turned in some big plays today. It just wasn’t quite enough though.”
The Panthers found themselves in the unenviable position of playing catch up for the entirety of Saturday’s contest, falling behind 1-0 and then by a score of 5-1.
Undaunted the Panthers chipped away at the Indian lead, tying the game at 1-1 in the first inning when Braden Watt, who reached base with a lead off single, came around to score courtesy of an RBI single by senior catcher Candon Watt.
Buhl wound up chasing starting pitcher Shane Parkinson from the game when they tallied a run in the second and then a home run in the top of the third inning.
Sophomore hurler Zane Stephenson entered in relief and threw well, holding the Buhl bats at bay while the Snake River offense began chipping away at the lead.
The Panthers were able to strike for three runs in the home half of the fifth inning as Candon Watt led off with a single. Cody Dean reached on a fielding miscue by the Buhl defense and then Cole Rushton ripped his second single for an RBI.
After a ground out by Keegan Keller advanced Dean and Rushton to second and third, Travis Robertson then stepped up with a 2-out, 2-RBI single to right field, making the score 5-4.
“We just battled all day from behind and could never get over that hump,” coach Carter said. “Zane did a great job. Buhl never really hit him around or anything. He did a great job of throwing strikes and keeping them off balance.”
After a quick top of the sixth by Stephenson and the Panther defense, the Panthers came back to the plate in the home half looking for more.
Stephenson walked and Dean swatted a 2-out double to put runners at second and third. Buhl elected to walk Rushton intentionally to load the bases for Keller who worked the count to his favor and eventually Keller earned an RBI walk to tie the game at 5-5. That was all the runs Snake River could get however, as they stranded the bases loaded for the second time in the game, a fact that returned to haunt the men from Moreland as Buhl scored 2-runs in the top of the seventh for the win.
“We have a lot of younger kids that I am really excited about for the future in this program,” coach Carter said. “These seniors though, I just can’t say enough about how I feel about each of them. They are a great group of kids and I will miss them.”
BUHL 7, SNAKE RIVER 5
Buhl 111 200 2 – 7 9 3
Snake River 100 031 0 – 5 7 3
Buhl hitters – Matt Hamilton 2-3, Hunter Littlefair 1-4 HR, Dally Charters 2-3 2B, Jordan Gentry 1-3 2B; pitching – Matt Hamilton 4IP 4R 1ER 5H 4K 2BB, Markus Lively (W) 3IP 1R 1ER 2H 7K 3BB
Snake River hitters – Candon Watt 2-4, Cody Dean 1-4 2B, Cole Rushton 2-2; pitching – Shane Parkinson 2 1/3IP 3R 2ER 4H 1K 3BB; Zane Stephenson (L) 4 2/3IP, 4R 4ER 5H 3K 2BB