Alton, IL. – The Panthers “hosted” the MacMurray Highlanders on March 3, 2017. The game was moved from the Panthers’ home field to Gordon Moore Park in Alton, Illinois, because their home field was deemed unplayable after a pipe burst Thursday evening into Friday morning. Though the Panthers home opener was not at their usual home field, they did not let that phase them as they played well against one of the top teams in the league and came away victorious in their conference opener.
The Panthers earned a 6-5 win against last year’s SLIAC East champions, the Highlanders of MacMurray College. Senior Sawyer Grow received the start on the mound. Grow was dominant this evening as he was able to keep the Highlanders guessing all night. He went deep into the game, throwing 6.2 innings. He allowed just three hits and one run while striking out three.
Grow then turned it over to freshman Sean Hannan with two outs in the seventh inning. Hannan worked out of a bases loaded jam in the seventh and closed the final 2.1 innings for the Panthers. He allowed just one hit while striking out a pair out of the pen.
The Highlanders were one of the best pitching and defensive teams in the league last year and entered tonight’s matchup with the best record in the conference, sitting at 5-1. The Panthers showed that their offense is a force to be reckoned with this year as they tallied six runs against arguably the deepest pitching staff in the SLIAC.
Ed Bargmann, Connor Coyne, and Will Adler led the charge offensively. They each picked up two hits. The Panthers struck first on an RBI double off the bat of Coyne in the third. Parker Davidson scored on Coyne’s extra base hit. Adler then drove in the second run for the Panthers in the fourth inning on an RBI single, scoring Jake Kearney from second base.
The Highlanders turned to Cory Steinhart, their hard throwing right hander, in the fifth frame. However, the Panthers were aggressive early in the count against Steinhart and rallied for four runs in the fifth inning, providing them with a 6-0 lead. Zach Grennie, Parker Davidson, and Bryce Murray each picked up base hits in the fifth inning which sparked the Panthers rally.
The Highlanders did not go away quietly though as they chipped away at the Panthers lead in the final three innings of the ballgame. The Highlanders cut the lead to one, trailing 6-5 with two outs in the final frame. They had the tying run at third base just ninety feet away. They had the go ahead run at the plate, in cleanup hitter Alec Quandt. Hannan worked out of a jam in the last inning though and got Quandt to fly out to the left fielder, Parker Davidson, who made a nice running catch to secure the win. This was an all-around great team effort by the Panthers tonight as they won in exciting fashion against one of the best teams in the league. The win boosts the Panthers to 1-1 on the year and 1-0 in conference action, while the Highlanders dropped to 5-2 and 0-1 in SLIAC play.
Head coach Chris Marston stated: “I am proud of the way the guys battled adversity today to pick up the win against a very talented team. It could have been easy to complain about the weather and the field change but instead they rose to meet the challenge.” The Panthers now have a week off before hosting the Crowley’s Ridge Pioneers on Friday, March 10 and Saturday, March 11, for a four game series. A big thank you to all those fans who drove out to Alton to support our team tonight and we look forward to seeing you next weekend at our home field!