Leading 3-0 in the opener of their doubleheader on Wednesday night, the Lakeside Panthers gave up the momentum and never got it back.
Facing Whitewater in the second round of the Class AAAAA state baseball tournament, the Panthers surrendered three unearned runs in the final two innings, losing 4-3 to the Wildcats. The Panthers’ season ended in the nightcap, as they were beaten 7-0.
“We honestly felt like we lost Game 1, we didn’t feel like they beat us,” said Lakeside coach Jay Matthews, whose Panthers committed six errors. “We probably could have made some plays, but you know what? That’s baseball.”
After the Wildcats (24-7) tied Game 1 at three with two runs in the top of the sixth, the Panthers (19-9) had a chance to regain the lead. Stephen Hutto singled with two outs, but Tanner Durand was gunned down at the plate trying to score from second.
In the seventh inning, Whitewater’s Hunter Benning led off, advancing to third on a three-base error. He scored the go-ahead run on a single by Nick Fuerstenan.
The Panthers refused to go quietly.
They posted consecutive two-out singles in the bottom half of the inning, but couldn’t push any runs across the plate.
In Game 2, the Panthers, trailing 3-0 in the sixth inning, loaded the bases with two outs but couldn’t score.
The Wildcats ended the suspense with four runs in their half of the sixth.
“We run Hunter (Hubbard) out there in Game 1 and he gave us an opportunity to win,” Matthews said of his starter, who battled for six innings, allowing the four runs – one earned – on seven hits while striking out eight and walking four. “Once we didn’t get that one, it’s probable some of the guys let down, but we had confidence coming back with Cole (Pittman) because he’s been throwing great lately.”
Pittman (7-2) allowed four runs on six singles in five innings, but the Panthers couldn’t do much with Whitewater starter Ethan Gillis (5-1), who gave up two hits apiece to Tyler Williams and Chandler Corley.