Baseball: Western stops Griffith at regionals
By Mike Hutton 648-3139 or email@example.com June 2, 2012 11:46PM
Updated: July 7, 2012 8:15AM
PLYMOUTH — There was no head hanging or slumped shoulders from Griffith baseball coach Brian Jennings after his team lost 4-1 to Western in the championship game of the Plymouth Regional on Saturday. It was the first time since 2001 that Griffith was in the championship game of the regionals.
Western did what Andrean couldn’t do in the opener. It played virtually error-free baseball, refusing to let the Panthers exploit mistakes — and it turned on two Anthony Carter fastballs in the first inning, jumping out to a 2-0 lead.
That lead was never seriously challenged.
For Jennings and the Panthers, it was the end of season in which they exceeded expectations, particularly with their upset over the 59ers in the opening game.
“I’m proud of my kids,” Jennings said. “Who gave us any possibility of being in this position?”
Western got on the board with back-to-back homers by Marcus Pingleton and Adam Belen in the first inning.
Jennings didn’t waste any time switching pitchers.
He pulled Carter after five pitches, replacing him with Garrett Litke. Both homers were long bombs. Litke, who had pitched against the 59ers, was effective, going six innings and giving up two runs. Jennings said that Carter left two change-ups in the zone that Western turned on.
“They hit the ball,” Jennings said. “He made two mistakes. That’s why we made the move.”
Griffith’s biggest problem was it couldn’t make any headway against Evan Warden, who finished with 14 strikeouts and he gave up four hits.
Jennings said the Panthers had scouted him and knew what was coming. They just couldn’t hit it.
“He was tipping his pitches,” he said. “Give the credit. He is good.”
It also helped that Warden didn’t have to rely much on his defense. They only had to make seven plays in the field.
“That takes the pressure off you,” Jennings said.
There was a small glimmer of hope for the Panthers when Brandon Garcia, who bats last in the order, parked one over the left field fence in the third inning.
That cut the lead to 2-1 but Western bounced back with a run in the third. With Garcia mowing down Panthers, the opportunity to pull off an upset slipped away with each successive out.
Garcia said Warden’s curve ball was the key for him.
“We knew what was coming,” he said. “We just couldn’t hit it.”
For Garcia, a sophomore, the loss may have been the end of the season but he hopes it’s the beginning of something very good for next year.
“It was amazing playing with seniors like Garrett Litke and Zac Muller,” he said. “This loss gives me motivation to work hard in the offseason. We will be back here.”