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OTTAWA — Putnam County was solid early, but Ottawa rallied for all eight of their runs after Panther starting pitcher Jack Egan left with an injury to come away with an 8-7 non-conference victory Tuesday night at Ottawa’s King Field.
The Panthers led 3-0 in the bottom of the fourth and were in control when Egan took a line drive off his groin area off a ball batted by Tyler Skolek.
Egan attempted to retrieve the ball and fire to first, but was unsuccessful and fell to the ground in pain. After several minutes on the ground, Egan threw some practice pitches, but eventually left the field to get checked out at a hospital.
“I haven’t heard back from him (Egan) yet, but I know he went to the hospital to get checked out,” Putnam County head coach Dave Garcia said. “Obviously we all hope he is ok. He is one of our leaders on this team. I know the momentum changed when he left, but that’s part of the game and you have to adjust.”
In the bottom of the fifth, the Pirates cut into Panthers lead with RBI from Michael Hermosillo and Kyle Wallbaum.
Putnam County responded in their next at bat and then the Pirates matched in the bottom of the sixth to cut the deficit to 4-3.
As they had throughout the game, Putnam County again responded to Ottawa and put some distance between the two as Christian Carboni came up big for the Panthers with a 3-run double down the right field line to push the Putnam County lead to 7-3.
Brazon Wheeler started off the bottom of the seventh with a triple that went under the glove Ryan Salz. Hermosillo then hit a sacrifice fly to right field and scoring Wheeler.
Wallbaum then hit his second triple of the day and then Cahill Horner was hit by a pitch. Tabor Griglione picked up an RBI single to right and make it a 7-6 Putnam County lead.
Trip Walsh, who was pinch running for catcher Colton Trager, tied the game when he scored on a wild pitch.
Then, with the bases loaded, Seth Coffey slapped a shot to Justin Pettit at third. Pettit bobbled the ball allowing Griglione to score and to give the Pirates a 8-7 victory.
“I know it’s early in the season, but our Achilles’ Heel all season has been finishing games,” Garcia said. “We have to figure how to finish games out. We play well, but then can’t finish things.”
“We were taking first pitch strike or take until they do throw a strike,” Pirates skipper Don Heaberlin said. “We knew they were going to bring in Cody Ballerini and I thought maybe we could have more success against someone who throws hard like he does. I thought we did a good job of timely hitting in the seventh and came away with the win, but we still have to cut out the errors on defense.”
“I’ll be honest with you, I thought that was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Heaberlin said of Egan’s departure in the fourth. “I think we kind of thought when he (Egan) went out that it was a matter of time before we started to put some hits together.”
For the Panthers, Jake Kasperski and Carboni each had two hits while Ballerini took the loss on the mound.
Griglione had three hits for the Pirates, while Wheeler and Wallbaum each had two hits. Jacob Draper picked up the win.