Despite receiving a bye in the bi-district round, Saint Jo baseball drew state ranked Dodd City in the regional quarterfinals of the playoffs and were underdogs.
Playing a double header on Friday at Bells High School, the Panthers could not pull the upset that day as the Hornets won both games 11-1 and 12-3 to end their season.
The first game was rough since it had been more than a week since Saint Jo had played. Tyler Cook got on base with two out single in the first inning, but it did not lead to anything.
Dodd City went to work, scoring four runs thanks to two hits, two walks and a couple of steals. The Panthers found themselves behind 4-0 after one inning.
Saint Jo batters failed to get on base in the second inning. A leadoff walk from the Hornets led to another run to extend the lead to 5-0 after two innings.
The Panthers offense built some real momentum in the third starting off with Eli Jones drawing a walk with one out. Jones stole second base and Wyatt Geurin followed with a single to put runners at the corners.
Connor Thompson came through, driving in Jones with a single to left field, cutting the lead to 5-1. Unfortunately, the next two batters failed to get on base even after both runners stole bases to move into scoring position.
Dodd City doubled its runs thanks to three base hits and three drawn walks to go up 10-1 as the game started to slip away after three innings.
Brock Durham led off with a single for the Panthers, but the pinch runner was picked off at first base later in the inning while the next two batters were retired. Despite hitting a batter with one out, Saint Jo kept the runner from scoring as the game advanced to the fifth inning.
Geurin reached first base thanks to an error at third base with two outs, but there would be no two out rally for the Panthers. Despite keeping the Hornets from scoring in the last inning, four walks scored the winning run in the fifth as the game ended due to run rule 11-1.
Saint Jo gave up double digit walks and stolen bases that made all the difference in game one and could only play better in game two.
It proved to be the better game. The Hornets continued to find ways to capitalize on lone base runners as a leadoff walk came around to score thanks to an error in the top of the first inning to lead 1-0. Cook drew a two out walk for the Panthers, but it did not lead to any scoring.
Dodd City drew two walks, but Saint Jo did a better job of limiting steals on the base paths and threw out a runner at second base for the third out of the inning. Like the first inning one batter, Trevor Conner, drew a walk. Just like the first inning, the runner was stranded at first base as the next two batters were retired.
The Hornets added to their lead in the third inning. A two out walk and a stolen base was capitalized on by a base hit to right field to score the runner, upping the lead to 2-0.
Geurin hit a one out single to center field. Geurin was able to reach second base thanks to an error, but was out at third base right before Thompson hit a single to left field. Thompson advanced to second on a passed ball, but the next batter struck out for the third out.
A leadoff walk and a single from Dodd City normally would have scored a run, but the Panthers prevented any stolen bases, even throwing a runner out at third base for the third out.
Saint Jo’s offense came to life as Jace Johnson led off with a drawn walk. Durham followed with a single to right field, good enough for pinch runner Hunter Garrett to reach third base.
After a strikeout, Logan Morman put the ball in play. The shortstop committed an error that allowed Garrett to score, Durham to reach third and Morman to reach first. Next batter Pepe Gam grounded out to third base, but Durham was able to score on the play to tie the game up at 2-2.
In the fifth inning, the Hornets started a two out rally with a walk and a single. An error at first base allowed the lead runner to score as Dodd City retook the lead 3-2.
The Panthers answered as Thompson hit a one out line drive single to center field. Cook followed with a walk to advance Thompson. Johnson put the ball in play and thanks to an error at first, Thompson scored to tie the game at 3-3.
The Hornets secured the lead again in the sixth inning as a hit batter was driven in after advancing to third base thanks to a failed pick off attempt and a passed ball. Dodd City led 4-3.
While Saint Jo’s offense had answered the previous two innings, only Gam getting hit by a pitch with two outs prevented the Panthers from getting shut down. A failed stolen base attempt by the pinch runner ended things on the base paths as the game advanced to the seventh and final inning.
After liming the free bases all game compared to game one, Saint Jo pitchers could not find the strike zone in the final inning. The Panthers walked eight batters, hit two batters and allowed one hit in the seventh inning as the Hornets lead grew to 12-3 in an inning that would not end.
Saint Jo tried to be aggressive till the very end. Thompson hit a two out single and hoped to inspire a rally. After stealing second base, the game ended on the base paths with Thompson trying to steal third base.
Dodd City won 12-3.
To read the full story, pick up a copy of the mid-week edition of the Bowie News.