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 Panthers Do Little Right in Loss to New Palestine

April 2, 2008 - With a number three preseason ranking in Class 2A and eight starters returning from last year’s 15-win team, the Knightstown Panther baseball team opened the season with high expectations.

Perennial state power New Palestine at least temporarily grounded those high-flying notions in the season opener last Wednesday. The Class 3A’s 10th-ranked team whipped Knightstown 18-0 on the Panther field.

New Palestine has long been a state power and this year is no exception. The Dragons went 24-6 last season. They won the Class 3A state championship in 2004 and have compiled a 72-17 record since that state title run, winning well over 100 games in the last four years.

The Dragons sent pitching ace Patrick Craft to the mound against Knightstown and he proved his reputation is no fluke. Craft compiled a 9-0 record and 1.78 earned run average last year while being named the East Region Player of the Year. He took up where he left off last season, handcuffing the Panthers by allowing just one hit in the game.

Knightstown had just three base runners in the contest. Senior Trey McColley spoiled Craft’s bid for a no-hitter by slapping a one-out single in the third inning. Jordan Bearhope drew a walk in the fourth frame, and Drew Martin reached base on a free pass against a Dragon relief pitcher in the fifth inning.

Craft worked four innings, allowing one hit, one walk and striking out seven Panthers. Knightstown fanned 10 games in the five inning game.

Walks and errors also hurt the Panther team considerably. New Palestine scored two runs in the first inning and added six more in the second. After two frames Knightstown trailed 8-0, but starting pitcher Joe Haase had allowed just three hits. Four Dragons reached base on walks and another was hit by a pitch.

New Palestine scored all the runs they would eventually need in the first inning when Andrew Armour reached on a fielder’s choice and scored on a two-run homer by right fielder Jake Smith. Multiple Panther errors occurred in the second inning when the Dragons scored six times to increase their lead to 8-0. They scored seven runs in the fifth inning and won the shortened game by the 10-run rule.

Craft put down the first seven Panthers he faced before McColley’s single ruined the perfect game. Coach Donnie Martin inserted Mike Hurst as a pinch-runner, but he didn’t make it to second base because Craft fanned the next two Panthers.

Bearhope and Martin both drew walks, but both were also left at first base as the Panthers never got a runner into scoring position against the veteran Dragon pitching staff.

New Palestine scored 18 runs in the game, but just three went into the books as earned. Knightstown committed six costly errors in the game and the Dragon runs outnumbered their hits by a two-to-one margin.

The Panthers will have a little bit of time to think about that loss. Due to spring break, the schedule has the team off for two weeks until an April 9 game at Blue River. Knightstown plays at Winchester next Thursday and hosts Eastern Hancock in a twinbill on April 12.


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