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Baseball: Panthers get hot at right time

By Staff | May 27, 2016

Coach Greg Foster (middle) meets with team members during region play earlier this week.

The Rugby Panther Baseball team seems like it saved its best for last for the Spring of 2016. Heading into the region tournament, the Panthers had the four seed and needed to play the first game of the tournament versus the fifth seeded Bottineau Braves which was held last Thursday, May 19th. Rugby used a five run second inning to take control of the game and added on five more runs over the fifth and sixth innings to defeat the Braves 10-7. With the win, Rugby avoided having to play an elimination game as the region tournament got into full swing this past Monday. It also meant they would have to take on the top seed in Rolette/Rolla. “The week leading up to and then after Bottineau, we talked about being on the precipice, “mentioned Co-Head Coach Greg Foster, “we knew we had an opportunity to prove that we were better than a four seed.” Perhaps the biggest news of the season for the Panthers was that last Friday, the team was informed that JR Dillon Marco was cleared to play. Marco had been recovering from a knee injury and had been a key part of Rugby’s run to the region final last year.

After the play-in game, the Panthers were poised for Rolette/Rolla, a team they had lost two twice during the regular season. SR Evan Burckhard turned in a fine performance on the mound as he pitched all seven innings, giving up nine hits, walked one batter while striking out seven and more importantly did not allow a run as Rugby won 4-0. This set the stage for a show down with the Hornets of Harvey/Wells County.

The two sides had split during the regular season, Rugby got their win due to a forfeit. Harvey has had a lot of success the last few years at the tournament and seemed like it was going to be another close loss versus Harvey as they had a slim lead 3-2 over the Panthers going into the top of the seventh inning. Lady Lucky graced her presence for Rugby as they were able to put up four runs in the top of the inning, including a bases-loaded RBI walk by FR Mason McCabe to take the lead. This was followed by a two-run single from Marco and Rugby had a 6-3 lead. Harvey loaded the bases on the bottom half, but Marco shut the door on the mound and Rugby punched its ticket to the region championship game.

Rolette/Rolla was able to battle through the elimination bracket to face the Panthers in the championship. “We felt that if we kept winning, the fourth seed wouldn’t mean that much,” Foster added on. The game was scheduled for Wednesday but due to inclement weather, it was pushed back to Thursday. So you will be able to read the conclusion to this thrilling time in next week’s paper.

Hauser is the sports director for AM 1450 KZZJ radio.

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