The Litchfield Purple Panthers’ Cinderalla run in the postseason would come to a sudden halt at the hands of the host school and number one seed North Mac Panthers on Friday, June 4. North Mac would use a three-run fourth inning to break open a tie ball game and would never look back, claiming an 8-2 victory and ending Litchfield’s season.
After North Mac claimed the first lead of the contest with a run in the bottom of the second inning, the Purple Panthers picked up their first run in the third inning.
After the first two outs were recorded in the inning, Jacob Frerichs would begin a two-out rally with a base hit to center field. Jacob Budd would follow with a single of his own as he would hit a shot to center field, scoring Frerichs. Budd’s RBI would tie the contest at one run a piece. Budd would remain on the base paths as the next Purple Panther would be retired on strikes.
North Mac sensed the threat and the damage the Purple Panthers could do when they have the opportunity. Not wanting Litchfield to pull off their second straight upset, North Mac would use the next two innings to build a commanding lead.
They would add a three spot in the bottom of the fourth inning and two more runs in the bottom of the fifth to give themselves a 6-1 lead after five innings of action.
Litchfield would attempt to rally in their part of the sixth inning as Jacob Budd opened the inning with a two-bag hit. Logan Schmitz replaced Budd on the base paths but would not remain there for long as Bryce Hires collected the second straight double of the inning for Litchfield.
The early inning success quickly came to a stop as three outs would be claimed during the next two at-bats on a pick-off and two strike outs. Litchfield would move themselves one run closer to the North Mac lead making it 6-2 after five and a half innings of play.
Again, North Mac would sense a comeback threat by Litchfield and would once again build on their lead in the bottom half of the fifth inning. North Mac put two more runs on the board as they built an 8-2 lead heading into the final inning of action.
Litchfield would attempt to claw their way back into the contest in their final at-bats. The Purple Panthers opened the inning with two base hits, but North Mac would prevent any other Purple Panthers from reaching the base paths.
Even though the Purple Panthers’ season would come to a close, the effort would be seen throughout the contest. That effort could turn into more wins in 2022 as Litchfield returns several key members from this year’s squad.
June 4 at Virden
Litchfield 001 001 0 2 8 1
North Mac 010 322 x 8 10 0
Litchfield IP R ER H K BB
Saathoff 4 4 2 6 1 0
Gasperson 0.1 2 2 0 0 1
Budd 1.2 2 0 2 2 1
*Gasperson 2 HBP
Multiple Hits: Litchfield - Jacob Budd 2-3. 2B: Litchfield - Jacob Budd 1, Bryce Hires 1. Runs: Litchfield - Jacob Budd 1, Jacob Frerichs 1. RBI: Litchfield - Bryce Hires 1, Jacob Budd 1.
Records: Litchfield (3-11); North Mac (19-1).
Hitting your stride and playing your best ball in the postseason is always the goal. On Wednesday, June 2, the ninth-seeded Litchfield Purple Panthers baseball club would realize that goal as they defeated the eighth-seeded Auburn Trojans 5-3 in the first round of regionals.
The contest would not start in favor of the visiting Panthers as Auburn would jump out to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning.
Litchfield claimed one of those runs back in the top half of the third inning. With two outs, Jacob Frerichs collected a single off the fourth pitch of the at-bat. Jacob Budd would follow Frerichs on the basepaths as he reached first on a fielding error. The error would allow Frerichs to scamper over to third base, giving the Panthers a runner in scoring position.
Bryce Hires capitalized on the opportunity as he would single in Frerichs, giving Litchfield their first run of the contest.
All big games come with a big inning and the top of the fourth was it for the Panthers as they would cross the plate four times, building a 5-3 lead.
Two of the four Litchfield runs came before the Panthers put a bat on the ball in the inning as Litchfield opened their half of the fourth with five straight walks. Drew Hartzell, the fourth walk of the inning, collected an RBI as his good eye allowed Blaine Stewart to be pushed across the plate.
Chase Hires would tie the ball game at three when he collected the fifth walk of the inning, scoring Carson Saathoff from third.
The Panthers would gain their first lead of the contest when Tate Dobrinich singled in Jace Stewart, making the score 4-3.
Auburn would finally collect the first out of the inning when Jacob Frerichs grounded into a fielder’s choice. By putting the ball into play Litchfield would still obtain a run on the play as Drew Hartzell would score from third, increasing Litchfield’s lead to 5-3. Auburn would quickly shut the door after that, but Litchfield had already done the damage needed.
With the lead, the Panthers would turn to their bullpen and the bullpen would not disappoint. Jacob Frerichs relieved Bryce Hires on the mound and would nearly put together a flawless effort. In four innings of action Frerichs would strike out eight of the 13 batters he faced and would not allow a hit, only allowing one Trojan on the basepaths due to a walk.
The effort by Frerichs would secure the Panthers’ upset over the Trojans with a 5-3 score and would send them to the regional semifinal against North Mac on June 4.
June 2 at Auburn
Litchfield 001 400 0 5 7 0
Auburn 030 000 0 3 2 1
Litchfield IP R ER H K BB
B. Hires 3 3 3 2 3 1
Frerichs 4 0 0 0 8 1
*Hires 3 HBP
Auburn IP R ER H K BB
C. Smith 3 5 5 4 4 4
Grosenheider 4 0 0 3 2 2
Multiple Hits: Litchfield - Jacob Frerichs 2-4. 2B: Litchfield - Jacob Frerichs 1. Runs: Litchfield - Jacob Frerichs 1, Blaine Stewart 1, Carson Saathoff 1, Jace Stewart 1, Drew Hartzell 1. RBI: Litchfield - Jacob Frerichs 1, Bryce Hires 1, Drew Hartzell 1, Chase Hires 1, Tate Dobrinich 1.
Record: Litchfield (3-10).