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Babe Ruth team faces challenge on home turf

By Staff | Jun 26, 2020

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.

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.”

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.

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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