Panthers Beat Generals in a Game of the Year Candidate

06/14/2023 4:06 PM -

Griffith, IN.- Wow. This game looked like it was going to end in a ten-run rule. After the Generals eliminated that from happening, it looked like it was going to be a smooth ninth inning for the Panthers. However, the Generals put up six and were a couple feet away from getting the tying run. The tying run would have scored and the Generals would have had a runner in scoring position with the tying run to the plate if it was not for a perfect throw home from the left fielder Beau Polickey, who by the way, started his Panthers debut at second base to make the game even more chaotic. 

The Panthers immediately put up a five-spot in the top of the first inning. Jaden Correa led off the game with a double and scored the first run from a throwing error from Generals’ pitcher Rodney Lester. Kevin Bushnell singled and brought in Polickey. Josh Williams followed with a double to bring in George Vilecki. Aaron Barrera picked up an RBI in his first Panthers at-bat by bringing in Bushnell on a fielder’s choice groundout. With a runner at third, John Scumaci added one more with a single. Panthers were all over Lester and gave themselves a comfortable 5-0 lead. 

Alberto Lamas was on the hill for the contest, making his first start of the year and only his second appearance. Lamas had no trouble adjusting to the starter-role as he dazzled through five innings and only gave up one run in the second inning from a wild pitch. He struck out eight and allowed a mere three hits.

The score was 5-1 going into the top of the fourth. Lester’s day was done and the Generals brought in someone the Panthers were familiar with in Kaden Kumzi. In that inning, Kevin Bushnell picked up his second RBI to give Beau Polickey his second run. It was 6-1 Panthers.

The Panthers added on the following inning as Jaden Correa brought in two with a base hit. 8-1 Panthers. 

In the top of the sixth, the Panthers picked up three more as Bushell scored on a wild pitch. Daniel Gay got in on the fun and ripped a single to left that brought in Williams. Gay made an impact on the bases as he stole second and helped Brennan Fisher score to make it 11-1. 

Eleven runs was the limit as that was the last run the Panthers scored in the contest. Eleven runs is the most the Panthers have scored this season and it helped them continue their consecutive high-scoring performances. In the last three games before this, the Panthers have scored ten, five, and seven runs, helping the Panthers climb up to much more respectable offensive team stats. It goes without saying that the Panthers look miles better offensively since the first couple games of the season. Not many people saw this kind of offensive production coming. One guy who has remained confident with the offense is no other then head coach Deandre Gilmore. 

“I have been telling the kids to come out and be aggressive. Be aggressive and get in a hitter’s count. Once you get in that hitters count you cannot miss. That is what they have been doing, putting the ball in play. A lot.”

The score was 11-1 going into the bottom of the seventh and the Generals needed one run, otherwise, the game would be called because of the “Ten after seven” Northern League Run Rule. The Panthers put up three runs off of Jorge Santos, while only one was earned. The three-run inning did not look or felt like much, but it eventually led to one of the most exciting finishes that anyone has seen at any level of baseball. 

It was 11-5 going into the bottom of the ninth with Anthony Mangano coming into the game looking to send everyone home and away from the rainy Brian Jennings Field. An error, a hit by pitch, and another error set up a bases loaded, no one out situation. The rain continued to be a factor as a pitch slipped away from Mangano and made it 11-6 by letting each base runner advance. Gino Guzzillo, who was just subbed in at first, made his second error of the inning to bring in the Generals seventh run. A second wild pitch from Mangano made it a three run deficit. Billy Jones got to second after yet another wild pitch. Landkrohn walked and then the Panthers finally got the first out of the inning. It was a fielder’s choice that only resulted in one out, but it also cost another run. 11-8. Mangano walked the next batter he faced and just like that, the tying run was up to the plate. 

Gilmore decided it was enough and shockingly had to bring in his closer Adan Vargas who was now in a save opportunity and was looking for his third save in four days. Vargas gave up a double that brought in two.  It was all Generals and they looked like they were in a prime position to come all the way back and at the very least tie the game. Vargas got a huge strikeout and was one out away from closing it out. 

Everyone’s hearts sank when the General’s nine-hitter ripped a single to left and the third base coach was waving the tying-runner to the plate. Now in left field was Beau Polickey and he had a tough play to make. Polickey got to the grounder quickly and then fluently released a wet baseball to the plate to try and nag the runner for the last out. Polickey’s throw was a great one as it traveled to the Panther’s defensively subbed catcher Hunter Hryck without taking a bounce and making it easy for Hryck to apply the tag.

An instant classic came to an end as it looked like the Panthers were going to lose a 10-run lead after a very ugly ninth inning. The Panthers will absolutely take it as they now move to 5-7 and are making a little comeback of their own and are now in the thick of a playoff spot.