HENNEPIN — The Putnam County baseball team’s 10 seniors are going out with a deep postseason run.
The Panthers beat Grant Park 5-0 on Saturday in the Class 1A Putnam County Sectional championship game to claim the program’s first sectional title since 2008 and advance to Monday’s Benedictine University Super-Sectional.
“The 10 seniors have been in the program and have had success since they were in junior high,” said PC coach Dave Garcia, who claimed his first sectional crown as PC’s head coach. “To see them get this far their senior year is pretty special.”
The Panthers (22-11) will face River Ridge at 10 a.m. Monday in Lisle.
River Ridge advanced to the super-sectional with a 1-0 victory Saturday over Freeport in the River Ridge Sectional final.
The Wildcats beat Putnam County 8-4 earlier this season.
“This time of year, anything can happen. That’s how you have to look at it,” said Garcia, who will start Cody Ballerini on Monday. “They’re a solid team. They can hit. Just looking at their scores, I know they can pitch a little bit.”
The Panthers can pitch too, especially Harold Fay.
The junior faced the minimum 21 batters Saturday.
After allowing a lead-off single to Jake Perrara, who was then caught stealing, Fay retired the next 20 batters he faced.
Fay struck out four batters and walked none.
“For Harold Fay to go out there and throw seven innings on 60 pitches, that shows he was attacking the zone,” Garcia said. “He was working all three pitches for strikes. He was just dialed in. When Harold is dialed in, he lets the momentum get to him and it makes him a better player. You saw that today.”
While Fay shut down the Dragons, the Panthers relied on small ball to score five runs on just three hits.
PC scored two runs in the second inning.
Justin Pettit walked and later came in to score on a balk, while Christian Carboni reached on an error and later scored when Fay drew a bases-loaded walk.
In the third, Xavier Warren was hit by a pitch to start the inning.
The speedy senior then stole second and third before he raced home to score despite the squeeze bunt not getting put down successfully.
Warren scored again in the fifth when he tripled to the left-centerfield gap and came home on a successful squeeze by Pettit.
PC added its final run in the sixth on an RBI double by Ballerini.
“We only had a handful of hits, but every time we got base runners, we executed and we did the little things,” Garcia said. “We spent the last couple practices working on taking the curveball the other way. We know (Perrara) has a good curveball. The guys battled. They stayed right on every pitch, and when we got opportunities with base runners on, we got the runners around.”
Warren finished 1-for-3 with a triple, a hit by pitch, three steals and two runs.
“He’s our fire starter,” Garcia said. “Just getting him on base makes things happen. He had a great game. He also had six putouts at shortstop and didn’t make an error.”
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.