Panthers notch win against region opponent
The Rugby Panthers notched their first region win on their home diamond April 26 when they defeated the Bottineau Braves 8-6.
The Panthers leaped ahead and took a commanding lead in the first inning, scoring seven runs on multiple Bottineau errors.
“We got off to a good start,” said Panthers coach Travis Risovi after the game. “We had a lot of good at bats, especially in that first inning. It got us going.”
A walk and a missed throw to first base put Rugby’s Logan Harner and Macen Heisler on base before a wild pitch advanced both to second and third. Cy Luna batted Harner in with a line drive to center field for the Panthers’ first run of the game. Jacob Ripplinger batted Heisler and Luna home next. A hard grounder to center field by Cole Schneibel put another runner in scoring position before Erik Foster doubled with a line drive to right field, bringing one more runner home.
A wild pitch brought Schneibel home for a fifth run before a short grounder hit by Gavin Schepp turned into a double on errors and brought in two more runs.
The first inning ended with a commanding 7-0 Panthers lead, but Bottineau steadied their nerves as the game went on.
Gabe Glasner started the Braves’ comeback with a double to deep center field. Next, a line drive single by Eli Bristol advanced Glasner to second base. A sacrifice hit by Sutton Shurley brought Glasner home and put Bristol at third before the Panthers put their gloves to work, catching a pop fly and tagging a runner out at first to take another turn at bat.
With a commanding 7-1 lead, the Panthers found another scoring opportunity when Luna doubled on a grounder, sliding to third on a wild pitch. Ripplinger doubled next, bringing Luna home.
The Braves amped up their defenses after a conference on the pitcher’s mound and the Panthers’ run total would stay at eight for the rest of the game.
The Panthers’ defense held steady for the third inning. The Braves’ defenses grew stronger. Although one runner took first base on a wild pitch, Haerer’s aim sharpened and he began to throw strikes. The inning ended with no runs and one runner stranded.
The Braves rallied on their turn at bat, with Glasner setting up the scoring drive with a base hit. A sacrifice grounder by Landon Rosendahl brought Glasner across home plate. George Henry followed two more Braves runs with a homer over the center field fence. Cheering Braves greeted Henry as he crossed the plate to bring in three more total runs.
The Panthers’ comfortable lead disappeared. They fought to maintain their 8-6 advantage for the rest of the game.
Haerer and the Braves’ infield put Rugby’s first three batters in the fourth inning away in short order to end the inning.
Ripplinger replaced starting pitcher Harner at the mound. The Braves popped two fly balls into center field for two easy outs and a third Braves batter stuck out.
The next two innings saw the Panthers and Braves in a defensive battle. The Panthers held onto their lead to finish the game.
“The Haerer kid, he battled,” Risovi said of the Braves’ pitcher. “He kind of settled down and pitched really well after that and we struggled to scrape another run across and their kids hit the ball pretty hard.”
“(The Braves) had that home run that was a three-run shot that put a little momentum their way but we did a nice job of getting their next batter out and settling down and finishing the game out,” Risovi added.
“That’s one thing about this team. If we have a strength, it’s our defense. We have a bunch of kids who are really talented with their gloves and they take a lot of pride in how they play defense and it shows. It really does,” Risovi said.
“This was our first region game of the year, so this was a big one for us,” Risovi added.
The Panthers saw another in-region battle at home against the North Star Bearcats April 29 before traveling to Turtle Mountain Community High School to battle another Braves team. Results from those games will appear in the May 7 Tribune.
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