Bearcats shut out Panthers
A week after the Rugby High School Panthers shut out Dunseith High’s Dragons 23-0 in their first region game of the 2019 baseball season, the team set their hopes on Monday’s home opener.
A Twitter account called “RHS Panther Baseball” announced in a post, “Home opener tonight at Northern Lights Field! North Star comes to town for a Region 5 matchup. First pitch schedule for 4:15.” The post featured a gif, or short animated digital clip, of NBC’s Jimmy Fallon pumping his fist with a caption reading, “Yes!”
The teams took their places on Rugby’s Northern Lights Field, and the Bearcats stepped up to bat.
An off-the-mark pitch by Panther Devan Michels struck batter Gavin Miller in the shoulder, resulting in a walk at the top of the first inning. Another walk followed, and a series of well-executed hits gave North Star a 5-0 lead by the time the inning ended.
Cy Luna took the bat first for the Panthers at the bottom of the inning, hitting a ground ball to center and getting tagged out by Bearcat Ian Knutson. Two Panther fly balls followed, each caught by Bearcats.
The second inning saw another Bearcat point after Hunter Borstad walked to first base and took advantage of an opportunity to steal second. A line drive by Jeremiah Hill brought Borstad home, but the Panthers held the Bearcats back when Michels struck out two more batters, and Kyler Gingerich tagged batter Dane Hagler out at first, leaving Hill stranded.
The Panthers’ struggle continued when they stepped up to the plate, unable to connect with the ball.
After the Panthers denied the Bearcats any runs in the third inning, Brady Schock walked to first base, and a grounder by Jordan Stone advanced him to second, giving the crowd hope for a rally, but a strikeout and another Panther tagged at second after a grounder ended the inning with a stranded runner.
The Bearcats pushed ahead again in the fourth inning, after Hill walked to first base, reaching third on an Austin Wagner fly ball. Keaton Nelsen brought Hill home, and after another walk loaded the bases for North Star. North Star dominated the Panthers 10-0, and the Panthers could not recover.
The fifth and final inning ended quickly with no scoring by either team but Panther fans stayed in the bleachers, enjoying the sunny afternoon. The no-hit varsity loss did little to dampen the crowd’s enthusiasm, and the junior varsity squad treated the Panther faithful to a 5-3 win over North Star.
Comparing Monday’s game to the Panther win at Dunseith, Head Coach Kendall Scheive said, “Biggest thing of that is this is our second game where we’ve had our full cast and crew here. To start the year, we had a couple of games where we were really short handed, so our first region game was against Dunseith. That was the first time we actually had our whole team here.”
“And today, we came out, and we just didn’t play well, long story short,” Scheive noted.
“The intensity and the energy level wasn’t where it needed to be, and we kind of got kicked in the teeth right away,” Scheive continued. “We’ve got to roll with that better and respond.”
“The young guys did a good job of throwing strikes, and they did a good job putting the ball in play,” Scheive said of the JV squad. “And that’s all you can ask for. The varsity team, we didn’t get hits.”
“And the JV team if you put the ball in play, things happen. So, they did a good job of that.”