Panthers suffer tough loss in extra innings to end playoff run

Published 11:48 am Monday, May 14, 2018

The Northside baseball team fought valiantly on the road but eventually fell 2-1 in extra innings to West Columbus Friday night to end the Panthers’ season in the second round of the playoffs.

It was a game defined by quality pitching and great defensive effort that ended in agonizing fashion for Northside. In the bottom of the tenth West Columbus hit a triple to get in scoring position. The Panthers almost recorded the out, thanks to a great relay throw, but the third baseman couldn’t quite complete the catch.

Northside walked the next two batters so there could be a force out at every base, but unfortunately for the Panthers, they threw four balls with the bases loaded, walking home the winning score for West Columbus.

“We tried to throw a 3-2 curveball, get a swing and a miss. It didn’t happen and we ended up walking the winning run in,” Northside coach Keith Boyd said. “It felt like what we had to do at the time, take the squeeze away, man on third with no outs. It felt like we had a chance to get a force play at home, and if lucky, get a double play.”

The Panthers got to that point thanks, in part, to the pitching of Zach Griffin. The senior pitched the game’s first six innings, allowing one run on four hits and striking out 11 Vikings. Douglas Dixon relieved Griffin, pitching the games final four innings. The sophomore racked up four strikeouts and scattered five hits over the four innings he pitched. Dixon was bailed out by second baseman Dawson Boyd on several occasions, with Boyd making great plays to close out the seventh and eighth innings.

West Columbus struck first in Friday’s game, scoring a run in the bottom of the third. The Vikings had a chance to add more, having loaded the bases and only having one out. But Griffin limited the damage, ending the inning with two strikeouts.

The Panthers responded immediately, scoring a run of their own in the fourth. Landon Ormond drew a walk to start off the inning, before a balk allowed him to reach second. At that point Omari Crandle was put in to run for Ormond. A wild pitch gave Crandle third base, before Tanner Alligood hit a ball up the middle to score Crandle and tie the game at 1-1.

Northside didn’t have much success at the plate all game. The Panthers had only five hits in the ten-inning game, with no batter having more than one hit. Matthew Marslender’s double was Northside’s only extra-base hit of the night.

The loss ends the Panther’s season, while West Columbus moves on to the third round of the playoffs. The Vikings will next play against the winner of Saturday’s game between Perquimans and Columbia.