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Babe Ruth team faces challenge on home turf

June 26, 2020
Sue Sitter - Tribune Reporter ( , Pierce County Tribune

Rugby's Babe Ruth Panthers continued their streak Tuesday evening against the Cando Bearcats on their home field with a 12-2 win, but not without a challenge.

Bearcat pitcher Dane Hagler held the Panthers to zero runs until the fourth inning, when Rugby batters found their rhythm.

"It was pretty close," Coach Dillon Marco said of the Panthers. "(Cando) threw their best guy and we threw ours."

Article Photos

Sue Sitter/PCT
Rugby catcher Erik Foster returns a pitch to Brody Schneibel Tuesday evening at Rugby's Johnsen Field. The Panthers squared off against the Cando Bearcats.

Hagler stood in the Panthers' way early in the game, limiting Rugby batters to pop flies or grounders that found their way to Bearcats' short stop Karson Simon, who fielded them to first base for easy outs. Other Panther batters didn't connect with the ball at all, striking out.

The tide turned in Rugby's favor at the bottom of the fourth inning, with a 0-0 tie.

Rugby pitcher Brody Schneibel landed safe at first after a grounder between second and third base resulted in a Cando error.

Fact Box

The Babe Ruth Panthers continued their winning ways on the road Thursday as they batted down the Harvey Eagles 13-3 in five innings.

The Panthers came to play in the Harvey Sports Complex wearing new white uniforms trimmed in black and orange.

Coach Dillon Marco described the slow starting game after the Panthers left the field.

"Good game," Marco said. We've got to start sooner and come out with more energy right away, but once we got going, we really fired on all cylinders."

The Panthers jumped ahead in the top of the first inning when Erik Foster batted in the first run.

The Eagles struck back, getting Tyler Meckle on base with a walk. Meckle would cross home plate and tie the score 1-1 on a pitching error.

After another Eagle walk, Panther third base player Garrett Sullivan tagged runner Luke Meranda out to foil another steal attempt, and two more Eagle batters struck out to end the inning.

A Dylan Bartsch base hit started off the second inning for the Panthers. Sullivan batted Bartsch in to put the Panthers ahead 2-1.

The Panthers batted in another three runs in the third inning, with Logan Harner walking to first base to set up the scoring drive.

Harvey answered back with an Ethan Eckart second base steal, followed by a Gavyn Schuh base hit and Meckle walk, which would set up a run on a Rugby error. A Braydin Svenningsen RBI put the score at 5-3, with the Panthers in the lead.

A Dane Hildebrand triple set the stage for more Panther runs in the fourth inning. After Harner batted in Hildebrand with a base hit to deep left field, a Jacob Ripplinger double and base hit by Foster widening the lead to 7-3. A run on errors and Maicen Heisler RBI put the score at 9-3 at the end of the inning.

The Eagles' efforts to launch a comeback were shut down by Rugby's Ripplinger, who struck out the top three Harvey batters.

The Panthers continued their climb up the scoreboard with base hits by Harner and Ripplinger, and another Foster RBI. Ripplinger crossed home plate on a wild Eagle pitch, while Heisler batted in two more runs with a base hit.

The Panthers held onto their 13-3 lead, quickly shutting down the Eagles' offense.

After the game, Marco said the playoff picture for the Panthers looked promising.

"We've still got two games to play until we've played everyone in our region at least once," he said. "We've got Cando and New Rockford next week."

"Cando, we expect to be a pretty good game. New Rockford, we've heard is a pretty good team," Marco added.

"We're definitely looking forward to coming down to the end of the season and getting into the regional tournament and seeing where it goes from there."

Schneibel capitalized on a bobbled catch to steal second just before batter Macen Heisler walked to first base. More Cando errors brought Schneibel to third base, then home for the first Rugby run.

Heisler would follow suit to put the Panthers ahead 2-0.

After an RBI by Dylan Bartsch, a deep right field line drive by Austin Dibble and a double by Jacob Ripplinger, the Panthers stretched their lead to 5-0. Another RBI, this time by Erik Foster, gave the Panthers a 6-0 lead at the end of the fourth inning.

The Bearcats charged back with base hits by Hagler and Zach Jorde, who put Cando in scoring position when they stole second and third base. Garret Westlind walked to first, loading the bases. Carson Simon batted two runners in later, narrowing Rugby's lead to 6-2.

Simon took the pitcher's mound for the Bearcats in the fifth inning. Panthers Schneibel and Heisler took bases on pitching errors before Rylan Heidbreder walked to first, loading the bases. With another Cando pitcher change, this time to Hunter Hagler, the Panthers left the runners stranded at the end of the fifth inning, the score staying at 6-2.

Schneibel kept his steady pitching pace in the sixth inning, quickly striking out the first two Cando batters before a pop fly to center field ended their time at bat.

After the bases loaded up again for the Panthers on walks and pitching errors at the bottom of the sixth inning, Heisler batted in a seventh run. Heidbreder batted in an eighth run for the team with a base hit, and pinch hitter Garrett Sullivan brought yet another Panther runner home for a 9-2 lead.

Bartsch took home plate on a wild Cando pitch before Logan Harner batted in yet another Panther run with a triple for an 11-2 lead. Harner took home plate a short time later, taking advantage of another pitching error. The Panthers had a 12-2 win to add to their collection of high-scoring victories.

"It was pretty close right away," Marco said after the game, "but then we scored some runs and broke it open."

"We capitalized on our offense," Marco added.

Marco said he gave the Panthers advice on handling Cando's pitching. "I told them we need to have our timing down. We were kind late on some balls because (Dane Hagler) throws harder than most pitchers in this league. Other than that, they just kind of brought themselves together."

The Panthers faced New Rockford-Sheyenne in New Rockford Thursday afternoon. Results from that game will appear in next week's Tribune.



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