06/30/2023 12:31 PM
Highland, IN- The Panthers offense showed us again that they love playing at Highland High School. They scored 11 runs against the Miracle June 28 and now 12 against the Corn Dogs. The Panthers will take this win against the best team in the Northern League as they are now set to travel to Whiting to play the second best team in the Northwest Indiana Oilmen who the Panthers have yet to beat.
The Corn Dogs jumped to a 3-0 lead off of Panthers pitcher Beau Polickey. Polickey was making his first pitching appearance since throwing one scoreless inning against the Corn Dogs a couple weeks ago.
In the bottom of the second, George Nahabedian cleared the bases with a triple to make it 3-2. Daniel Gay did his job and hit a deep fly ball to right, but was gifted first base along with his RBI as the right fielder Puplava straight up missed the ball.
The following inning the Corn Dogs took the lead back after a towering homer from Loden to make it 4-3. It looked like it was going to be a back-and-forth battle, but the Panthers broke it open in the third and never looked back.
The Panthers were hitting everything Dylan Matusak had to offer. The bases were loaded for George Nahabedian and he walked for his third RBI of the day. Daniel Gay got another RBI as he singled to score Raigosa. Alonzo Raigosa had a multi-hit night. Robert Tate went 2-4 on the night including an RBI single to make it 6-4. The Corn Dogs committed another error as it allowed Nahabedian to score for the second time. The Panthers capped off their five run third after a Kevin Bushnell RBI single.
Matusak got through the third, but his day was over. By far his worst start of his ultra-impressive season.
Polickey started to settle in as he just battled his way through seven. He did not give up anything until the seventh where he gave up two to make it 10-6. The Panthers scored runs nine and ten in the sixth off of a Bushnell RBI double and a Raigosa RBI groundout.
Polickey went seven innings where he allowed six runs in total and only four earned. He struck out two and walked one. This was a start that had head coach Deandre Gilmore ecstatic and impressed considering Polickey is a primary position player and did not pitch in college.
The Panthers added two more in the eighth to make it 12-6. Another RBI double for Kevin Bushnell and a Jason Ballard RBI single.
Kevin Bushnell is now hitting .346 on the season and is hitting a crazy .522 in the Panthers last eight games.
“I have been hitting a lot off the tee in my free time and I just figured some stuff out. I am not over swinging and I am just trusting my hands and not overdoing it.”
Bushnell started the season off on a power surge, but the average was lackluster. Bushnell blamed over swinging for his low average and says how he is even more productive when he just simplifies his swing and approach.
“In the beginning of the year I was over swinging. The power was there, but the batting average was down. I stopped overswinging and I started to trust myself and catch a lot more barrels.”
Ray Cantelo and Joelmis Mendez each had a scoreless inning to secure the 12-6 victory and make the season record against the Corn Dogs an even 3-3. The Panthers are now 11-15 on the year and remained tied with the Miracle for that last playoff spot.
The Panthers have looked like a whole different team offensively in the last two contests. Kevin Bushnell trails only Daniel Gay in at-bats and has seen the highs and lows of this offense. Bushnell believes the offense we have seen in the last two games is more like the offense we will continue to see as the season progresses.
“I think the success will continue. I notice a lot of guys are playing loose. Everyone is trusting their ability and we are just having fun right now. It is showing in the recent hitting performances.”