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Panthers misplace key in loss

May 15, 2010|By DAN KAUFFMAN

HANCOCK -- Hancock's baseball team gave Catoctin -- a Class 1A state finalist a year ago -- a real test in the first round of the Maryland 1A West playoffs on Friday.

Ultimately, the Panthers just could not get the key hits at the key times to upset the Cougars.

Evan Larsen allowed one run on five hits in six innings, Austin Carter homered in the first inning, and Catoctin pulled out a 6-1 victory over Hancock.

"We were in the game, we just didn't get the hit we needed with guys on base. Our kids made a good showing and they battled," said Panthers coach Brian Kerns, whose team finished the season 10-8. "No one can take away from the fact that we had a good season, being the smallest school in the state. Things are looking up in Hancock."

With two out in the top of the first, Panthers pitcher Hunter McKinley got ahead of Carter 0-2, but left a changeup up over the plate. Carter launched a towering drive beyond the fence in left center.

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"I think the home run in the first inning kind of set the tone, and I take full responsibility for that," Kerns said. "I called the (changeup) and it was the wrong pitch to call."

Catoctin (12-9) manufactured two runs in the second and three in the fourth to build a 6-0 lead.

In the second, Andrew Weaver doubled to right, took third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on Nick Krstanovic's bunt single. Brent Heinzl walked, Ben Tylicki singled to load the bases and Zack Kreitz hit a sacrifice fly to left to score Krstanovic.

In the fourth, Heinzl led off with a bloop single, Tylicki reached on a bunt single and Kreitz reached when McKinley bobbled his bunt in front of the mound to load the bases. With one out, McKinley hit Carter with a pitch to force in a run, Tanner Ausherman hit a sacrifice fly, and a throwing error let the final run score.

Hancock broke through against Larsen in the bottom of the fourth on singles by Eli Souders, Ethan Martin and McKinley.

But the Panthers stranded two runners to end the fourth, stranded two more in the sixth and left the bases loaded in the seventh -- when Catoctin ace R.J. Smith, who has missed much of the season with an injury, came on in relief to strike out the final two Panthers with overpowering stuff.

"We haven't had our 1-2-3 pitchers all year, we just got our 1 and 3 back," Cougars coach Mike Franklin said. "Evan tore his left (non-pitching) labrum on the wrestling team. He was in my office in tears. Here he is in the first round of the playoffs, and he's going to have surgery after the season. He has arm angles all over the place. His changeup, the bottom was falling out of it. ... We were hoping not to throw R.J., but we had to at the end."

Logan True and Souders each had two hits for Hancock. Nick Lanehart pitched three scoreless innings of relief with three strikeouts and three walks.

Catoctin 6, Hancock 1
Catoctin 120 300 0 -- 6 7 2
Hancock 000 100 0 -- 1 8 3

Larsen, Tulicki (7), Smith (7) and Krstanovic, Larsen (7). McKinley, Lanehart (5) and E. Souders. WP -- Larsen. LP -- McKinley. HR -- C: Carter (1st, none on).

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