Panthers sweep Northside in playoff series win

The Saint Jo Panthers won both of their games against Vernon Northside on Thursday night by run-rule to win the bi-district series.

The Saint Jo Panthers demolished Vernon Northside in Thursday’s double-header bi-district playoff round.
The Panthers won both games by run-rule 12-1 and 19-1 in games that were never close or dramatic.
Saint Jo came into the games as favorites after winning the district title and not having lost any playoff series to anybody except for Dodd City the past five years.
The Panthers pounced on the Indians from the jump in the first game thanks to a large helping of Northside fielding errors.
Saint Jo scored in the first inning as Payton Harris groundball induced an error at third base to drive in a run. Jonathan Diaz then laid down a sacrifice bunt that scored a run. On the same play, Logan Brawner was able to score somehow thanks to some messy fielding to put the Panthers up 3-0.
Brice Durham got the start on the mound for the Panthers. Despite allowing a single following two strikeouts, he forced a groundout to move to the second inning.
The Panthers loaded the bases with no outs in the second inning. Matthew Butler-Everson hit into a fielder’s choice out, but drove in one run. Another run was scored on the basepaths from Collin Thomas to make it 5-0.
The Indians got their best start to an inning with their leadoff hitting a line drive into right field that induced an error and allowed him to reach third base. Durham rebounded well, striking out two batters and forcing the next one to groundout to keep the shutout going.
Saint Jo again loaded the bases up in the third inning. With one out, Thomas hit a sacrifice fly to right field that scored a run.
After drawing a walk to load the bases again, Jace Johnson hit a single that drove in two runs. Harris followed with a double that drove in two more runs to make the score 10-0.
Northside batters did draw two walks and would advance both runners into scoring position to threaten the Panther defense. A fielder’s choice allowed the Indians to get on the board with one run to cut the lead to 10-1, but Saint Jo made sure that would be all by making the routine plays on groundball hits.
The fourth inning was one of the few scoreless innings for the Panthers in either game. Durham and the Saint Jo defense got back on track as well with a strikeout and two groundball outs.
In the fifth inning, Payton Harris hit a single into left field with two runners on base. It would have driven in one runner, but an error trying to gather the ball off the ground allowed the other to score and Harris to reach third base. Unfortunately, that was where he would stay as the next two batters struck out looking to end the chance.
The Panthers were up 12-1 and needed to not let Northside score two or more runs to end the game early due to the run-rule being 10 runs or more after five innings would be stopped.
Durham and the defense did not allow any base runners in the final inning as the first game came to a close and the final being 12-1.
The second game got started 20 minutes after the first and it was more of the same story.
Thomas was starting on the mound for Saint Jo and despite a fielding error allowing one Indian runner to get on base with two outs, it did not result in any runs coming through in the first inning.
The Panther bats picked up right where they left off in the first inning. Butler-Everson hit a groundball that induced an error that allowed the first run to score. Harris later drove him in on a single to left field. Substitute runner Diaz would advance to second base on a sacrifice bunt and then steal third base, before scoring thanks to a bad throw to make it 3-0.
Thomas struck out the side in the second inning before the Saint Jo bats came alive again.
Thomas hit a double that drove in two runs. Later, with the bases loaded and two outs, Durham hit a ball into the outfield that induced an error that scored all three runners on base and allowed him to reach third base. Next batter Logan Hoover then drove him with a single to up the Panthers lead to 9-0.
The third inning saw Thomas again strike out the side. Unfortunately, it was also the second inning of the series that saw the Saint Jo bats not only fail to score a run, but the only one where it did not get a base runner on.
The fourth inning saw Northside bats finally pick up. A leadoff single was nullified when the Panthers later caught the runner trying to steal second base. A double put a runner in scoring position and it was followed up with another double that drove in the runner to cut the lead to 9-1.
Saint Jo was able to shake off that moment of vulnerability and get that run, and then some, back with its hot bats again.
Harris drove in a run with a single. Durham followed with a double that drove in another run. Two batters later Brawner drove in a run on an infield single.
The team wasn’t done.
Following a fielder’s choice out, Kile Thurman drove in a run on a double. Following a hit batter, Butler-Everson drove in a run on a single. Johnson then grounded into a fielder’s choice for the second out, but it drove in a run.
Harris and Durham followed with RBI singles. Hoover then hit a groundball that induced an error that allowed another run to score. Brawner then laid down a bunt and beat the throw to first base to drive in another run to make the score 19-1 heading into the fifth inning.
The Indians would need to score nine runs to prevent from getting run-ruled again. Instead, Thomas struck out the side for the third time to end the game and the series.

To read the full story, pick up a copy of the weekend edition of the Bowie News.