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Younger Kerns earns win as Panthers burn Saints

April 15, 2005|by TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

HANCOCK - One thing was certain. When the Hancock and Saint James baseball teams took to the field on Thursday afternoon, a Kerns would be the winning coach.

Saint James coach Mick Kerns and Hancock coach Brian Kerns watched an eight-inning battle with Brian getting the upper hand in the "sibling rivalry" as the Panthers rallied from a five-run deficit to post a 12-11 victory.

Brian Kerns is in his first season as Hancock's coach while Mick is in his eighth year at Saint James.

It looked as though Saint James (1-7) would march to victory for the first six innings, holding an 11-6 margin heading t0 the bottom of the seventh inning.

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"It just goes to show you can't take anything for granted," said Mick Kerns.

"Being 1-0 against (Mick) really doesn't matter," said Brian Kerns, two years his brother's junior. "Brothers or not, it was unfortunate for them they collapsed. But I'm sure we'll talk about the game."

The Saints suffered a myriad of problems in the seventh inning, beginning when Alex Bust walked Andy Morris and allowed him to score on three wild pitches.

Steve Mowen doubled and scored on Josh Finney's single to cut the deficit to three. Danny Mauk reached base on Saint James third baseman Colin McWilliams' error, scoring Finney. Mauk scored on Ben Powell's double to right to cut the margin to 11-10.

Powell went to third on a wild pitch and tied the score one out later when Kenny Clark sent a bouncer to Saints shortstop Nate Vendetta, who dropped the ball and threw wildly to first.

After Mowen retired the Saints in the eighth, the Panthers went to work with walks to Mowen and Finney, which left Mick Kerns with a decision to intentionally walk Matt Kline to load the bases.

Powell sent a chopper to short, with Mowen moving on contact, forcing a late throw by Vendetta to start the Panthers' celebration.

"The kids didn't quit but it's been the same all year," said Brian Kerns. "We make errors early and get in a hole, but it was a win we needed to get some confidence."

St. James outhit Hancock (13-7), but also commited more errors (7-6). The late mental lapses plagued the Saints the most.

"We give them (five) walks, give them extra men on base with errors, we can't catch the ball," said Mick Kerns. "They won the ultimate game."

Mowen pitched the complete game and had three hits, including two doubles, and scored twice. He also walked and reached base on an error. He became stronger late in the game, shutting down St. James on one run in the last two innings.

"The errors behind you make it tough to pitch, but I actually felt better as the game went on," said Mowen.

Bust, who at one point retired 12 consecutive Hancock batters, struck out 12 while leading the Saints with four hits and three runs scored.

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