During the brief intermission between the first and second half of their league season, the Panthers hosted the Del Norte Warriors for a non-league game on Wednesday. The Warriors took an early lead, but the Panthers rallied to keep it close up to the final inning when the Warriors secured 13-4 victory after some big plays.
“We made some mistakes and they obviously were able to capitalize on it.” said Panthers coach Mark Hollinger. “We also tried to really spread out pitching after playing Reedsport yesterday and with another league game coming up Friday.”
At 3-10 overall the Panthers are rank No. 37 in the OSAA 2A/1A rankings. After a 9-1 loss against Reedsport on Tuesday, the Panthers have a 2-4 league record as they go into the second half of league play securely in fifth place in the 2A/1A Special District 5, just behind Toledo at 3-3.
The Warriors took an early lead on Wednesday with an uncontested 3 runs in the first inning after being thrown back-to-back walks from the Panthers. The Panthers continued to struggle pitching as they gave up a glut of walks to put the Panthers to end the second at 5-0.
The third inning saw the beginning of a Panther comeback as they finally matched the Warriors 1-1 in runs to head into the fourth at 6-1. The Panthers scored another three runs in the fifth while shutting down the Warriors to close the gap to 6-4.
The sixth inning was tense as neither team managed to score, but things turned decisively in the Warriors favor in the seventh. Several walks, steals and a big home run put the Warriors up with a whopping seven runs before the game drew to a close at 13-4.
Hollinger said that he felt positive about the Panthers rally in the middle of the game, especially against a large school like Del Norte, but moving into the second half of the league season he expressed concerned about letting single innings define games.
“Right now we’re 2-4. We’ve had one bad inning in each of those losses that have really cost us, aside from Reedsport who are just solid overall” Hollinger said. “We could have easily been 5-1.”
Hollinger says to secure a chance to go to this year’s playoffs, the Panthers will need to make it into the top four teams of the league. To do that, he expects they’ll need to defeat both Siletz and Toledo in their rematch games.
The Panthers hosted Siletz Valley on Friday and go on to play Bandon for their rematch game on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.. They’ll then travel to Reedsport on Friday to play the Braves again at 4:30 p.m.