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South Ridge's magical run ends in extra-inning loss

The South Ridge baseball team continued its magical season last Thursday with an impressive 14-0 Section 7A championship over the North Woods Grizzlies. The victory gave the Panthers a shot in the state tournament on Tuesday, where they fell 8-3 in a grinding 10-inning game to Springfield in St. Cloud.

“It was a heck of a game to be a part of today,” said Aaron Weber, head coach of the Panthers Tuesday. “If you would have told me our pitcher would throw a no-hitter through five innings, I would have said we would have won.”

Jaxson Bennett was indeed impressive in the loss. He left the game in the eighth inning with the score 1-1.

“That’s all you can ask of a pitcher,” Weber said. “We fought hard, they fought hard, but they just got the big hit when they needed it and we didn’t.”

After taking a 1-0 lead in the first inning, the Panthers held that lead until the fifth, when Springfield tied it at 1-1. The score remained even until the top of the ninth inning when the Tigers scored two runs to take a 3-1 lead.

The resilient Panthers fought back with two more runs of their own in the bottom of the ninth as Kaden Lane and Jaxson Bennett scored on hits from Connor Bushbaum and Aaron Bennett. It all started with one out on a pop-up by Lane that was lost in the sun, followed by a line drive by Jaxson Bennett, which deflected off a glove. After a second out it was Bushbaum and Aaron Bennett who recorded back-to-back hits to tie the game. Springfield then induced a groundout to end the threat and keep the game going into the 10th and fateful inning.

“The boys fought hard, and that inning we had a chance to end it,” Weber said. “We got the big hit to tie the game, but couldn’t get that big hit to end it.”

Things got ugly in a hurry for the Panthers as the Tigers led off with a double and eventually scored a run to take a 4-3 lead. Eventually, the Tigers loaded the bases and got a triple and a suicide squeeze, making the final 8-3.

“I can’t say enough about these guys,” Weber said. “We played hard, we played well, but we just didn’t hit as well as we normally do, and they got us. That’s baseball.”

Panthers dominate

In their 14-0 section win over North Woods, the Panthers hitting shoes were on display as they pounded out 11 hits and walked six times, plus they reached base four times courtesy of Grizzlies errors.

Christian Petaskey started the game on the mound and allowed just two hits through three innings. Aaron Bennett came in and struck out six straight batters in two innings of relief.

“Christian threw well, but it still was not his best game,” Weber said. “We have a lot of pitching and just decided to use Aaron (Bennett), and he struck out the side both innings.”

Wyatt Olson, Aaron Bennett, and Tony Lysic each had two RBIs in the game, while Sheen Ralidak, Lane and Austin Josephson all scored twice.

The Panthers finished the season with a 21-4 record and will return nearly the entire roster as they lose only two seniors, Connor Bushbaum and Jackson O’Bey.

“It was a tough loss today,” Weber said Tuesday. “We return some great kids, but those kids will be missed.”

Rendered 07/07/2024 05:44