GENESEO – After plenty of offense in the first inning, Washington pitchers stymied the Sycamore bats as the Panthers came from behind to beat the Spartans, 8-4, in the Class 3A Geneseo Supersectional on Monday.
While the Panthers (34-5) are heading to the Class 3A State Tournament for the second straight year, the season comes to end for the Spartans (28-6).
“We poured it out there, we gave it all we got,” said leadoff hitter Kiefer Tarnoki, who went 2 for 4 with an RBI and two runs scored. “We just fell short.”
Washington broke open a 4-all game in the top of the sixth inning with four runs, all charged to reliever Griffin Hallahan in his first inning of work. Keegan Isbell launched a double to start it off, then scored on a one-out single by Jack Limas. Easton Harris singled to score a second run and end Halalhan’s appearance after a 1/3 of an inning.
That big inning helped propel the Panthers to state for the second straight season after they took fourth last year.
“It’s a great accomplishment for these seniors,” Wisher said. “It’s an honor for them because they were around last year and they were able to get back again this year.”
After a scoreless fifth for Sycamore, the Panthers pushed two more across against reliever Tommy Townsend on a two-out error to take an 8-4 lead.
“In the bullpen, we weren’t able to come in and shut things down like we’ve been able to do all year,” Sycamore coach Jason Cavanaugh said. “There’s a reason why that team is going back to state for a second consecutive year.”
Sycamore couldn’t get anything back in the sixth off Bradley-bound Harris, and Garrett Cox struck out the middle of the Spartans’ order in the seventh.
“With the zeroes in the last two innings, especially in the fifth and sixth against [Harris], but we did hit balls hard in those innings,” Cavanaugh said. “We just couldn’t get anything to fall when we needed it. We did have traffic on the bases, but we were just missing that big hit.”
The Spartans struck first in the bottom of the third when Byron Blaise singled and was pulled for courtesy runner Reece Beinarauskas, who went to second on a single by Kiefer Tarnoki. After Harris made a diving catch on a bunt attempt, Tommy Townsend launched a ground-rule double, then Amptmann hit a sac fly to score Tarnoki.
But in the top of the fourth the Panthers scored three of Amptmann. With two on, Amptmann threw away a bunt, allowing one run to score. Keegan Isbell followed with a two-run single to put the Panthers ahead.
Sycamore took the lead again in the bottom of the fourth. Kyle Hartmann reached on a dropped third strike, then with two outs Kiefer Taronki singled home Hartmann, then Townsend doubled home Tarnoki.
The Panthers tied the game once again in the top of the fifth with runners on second and third with one out, but Amptmann picked up his 10th and 11th strikeouts of the game to escape the jam. At 99 pitches, he didn’t come back for the sixth and finished allowing five hits, four runs, three earned and three walks.
“We couldn’t avoid traffic on the bases,” Cavanaugh said. “It seemed like we were throwing up zeroes early in the game but Jimmy was using up a lot of energy to get through those early innings. As a result we had to pull him a little earlier than we wanted to today.”
Cavanaugh said the team will miss its five seniors (Ethan Storm, Reece Beinarauskas, Hallahan, Byron Blaise and Ethan Steele), and Tarnoki agreed.
“We all looked up to these seniors,” said Tarnoki, one of 14 juniors on the Sycamore roster. “Storm, Byron, all of them. We kept chugging along, kept playing as a team, and that got us here, and we just missed it. But I loved our season. It was ... fun.”