The Saint Jo Panthers season came to an end on Thursday night against frequent foe Dodd City in the regional quarterfinals.
The Hornets won both games in the double-header by the scores 8-6 and 12-2, beating the Panthers for the fourth time in five years.
Saint Jo came into the series feeling like it had a chance. There was talk it was a down year for Dodd City and the Panthers’ team was full of experienced upper-classmen looking to turn the narrative in the playoff matchup against the Hornets.
In the first game Saint Jo pitcher Collin Thomas weathered some big hits to limit Dodd City to scoring only one run in the first, third and fifth inning. The Hornets looked to score another run on a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning, but it turned into two runs thanks to an error getting the ball to home plate.
Saint Jo scored its first run of the game in the bottom of the sixth inning. Jace Johnson led off and got on base due to getting hit by a pitch. He got moved to second on a groundout, but looked like he might be stranded there with two outs. Logan Brawner came through with a blooper into shallow right field that scored Johnson to make it 5-1 heading into the final inning.
Unfortunately, the defense had a bad seventh. A couple of base hits, some free bases given up and on error in the outfield allowed three runs to score, putting the Hornets up 8-1.
Saint Jo would need some sort of miracle comeback in its final three outs and it just nearly got that.
Kile Thurman led off with a single. Thomas followed with a double to drive in Thurman for a run. After Thomas advanced to third base on a passed ball, Trevor O’Neal laid down a bunt to score Thomas. A fielding error while fielding the bunt allowed O’Neal to be safe and advance to second base.
The Hornets changed pitchers, but it did not matter. Matthew Butler-Everson drew a walk before Johnson hit a single to drive in another run and put runners at the corners. Johnson then stole second base, but an error on the throw allowed Buter-Everson to come in and score another run.
Following a fly out for out one, Payton Harris then hit a groundball to third base that resulted in another error that allowed Johnson to come in and score to cut the lead to 8-6.
The next batter struck out for out two, but Trevor Conner’s groundball to third base resulted in another error, putting the tying run on first base with runners at the corners.
Unfortunately, the magic ended as a groundball to the shortstop in the next at-bat resulted in an out at second base to end the game.
Dodd City won 8-6.
Saint Jo was hoping the momentum from how the first game ended would carry over into the second game. Unfortunately, that did not happen.
Dodd City made the Panthers earn their runs in the game by committing no fielding errors. The Hornets also got out to a good start by scoring four runs in the first inning thanks to two singles and three walks.
Saint Jo answered back with a run in the second inning. Brice Durham drew a walk. Harris followed with a single to put runners at the corners with one out. Brawner then came through with a single to drive in a run to make it 4-1.
In the third inning, Dodd City added three runs to its lead thanks to two singles a walk and a fielder’s choice. The Hornets led 7-1.
The Panthers then had a dream scenario to start the fourth inning. Johnson, Durham and Harris led off the inning with back-to-back-to-back singles to load the bases with no outs.
It looked like Saint Jo might squander the opportunity as the next two batters struck out, but Kile Thurman drew a walk to score one run. Unfortunately, the next batter popped out to right field for out three. The Hornets lead was 7-2.
Dodd City got that run back and then some in the same inning. Two singles, a walk and a fielding error allowed the Hornets to score three runs to up their lead to 10-2 heading into the fifth inning.
The Panthers had no luck with their bats and Dodd City needed to score only two more runs to end the game early due to run-rule.
A single and a hit batter led off inning before an error trying to field a bunt allowed both runners to come in and score to end the game.
The Hornets won 12-2.
To read the full story, pick up a copy of the weekend edition of the Bowie News.