GRANVILLE – For more than half a century, the Putnam County baseball program has seen its share of success with three state final four appearances, 15 regional titles and 26 20-plus win seasons.
During an 11-1, five-inning Tri-County Conference triumph over Woodland/Flanagan-Cornell on Friday afternoon at Jenkins Field, the Panthers added another milestone to their history: the 1,000th victory in program history.
“That win number is a credit to the coaches that came before me and all of the players that have played here. It’s a great milestone, and anyone that has coached or played here at Putnam County should be extremely proud of the accomplishment. I don’t know how many Illinois high school baseball programs can say they have reached 1,000 wins, but I’m guessing we are in a select group now.”
— Putnam County baseball coach Chris Newsome
“That win number is a credit to the coaches that came before me and all of the players that have played here. It’s a great milestone, and anyone that has coached or played here at Putnam County should be extremely proud of the accomplishment,” PC coach Chris Newsome said. The Panthers’ all-time record now stands at 1,000-521-3.
“I don’t know how many Illinois high school baseball programs can say they have reached 1,000 wins, but I’m guessing we are in a select group now. Coach (Ken) Jenkins, Coach (Joe) Massino, Coach (Dave) Garcia, and sprinkle in a couple of other coaches, have had a lot to do with the success of PC baseball for many years.
“Today was a good win and another good win for the program.”
According to the IHSA website, 20 programs in Illinois had reached the 1,000-win plateau entering this season.
The hosts scored twice in the first inning, three times in the second, and then exploded for six runs in the fifth to improve to 5-2 on the season and 1-0 in the TCC. WFC, which scored its only run in the third, fell to 0-2 and 0-1.
Panthers leadoff batter Andrew Pyszka started bottom of the first with a single off Warriors losing pitcher Ethan Schumm (4 1/3 IP, 6 H, 8 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 7 K) and then stole second and third before scoring on Matthew Liebhart’s sharp double to left. Liebhart advanced to third on an error and scored on a wild pitch.
In the second, Josh Jessen poked a one-out single, and Sam Currie walked before Austin Mattingly smacked a two-out, two-run single to left. Mattingly came around to make it 5-0 on Liebhart’s second two-bagger in as many at-bats.
“We played OK today, but we can definitely play better, and the kids know this wasn’t a clean game, ...” said Newsome, whose team turned a pair of double plays but also committed three errors. “We still have improvements to make, but it’s early in the season.”
WFC touched PC starter and winning pitcher Troy Petty (4 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K) for an unearned run in the third as Dylan Jenkins reached on an infield hit, advanced to third on a throwing error and scored on a fielder’s choice by Nolan Bressi. Jackson McDonald fanned one in a scoreless top of the fifth for the home team.
In the fifth, a bases-loaded walk by Chris Vzella and two-run base hits by Adam Currie and Sam Currie off WFC reliever Mason Sterling preceded Pyszka’s game-ending double to the base of the fence in left, scoring Sam Currie.
“I thought Ethan threw the ball pretty well for the first time out,” WFC coach Todd “Bubs” Hoffman said. “It’s been tough as we’ve only had one practice with all 13 kids present, and in many practices we only had six. At the start of practices, we were dealing with quarantine protocols and had some kids still playing football. We’re just trying to get back into the swing of things, and we’ll get there, but it’s going to take some time.
“We are a very young team, so a lot of these kids are learning on the fly. We also don’t have a ton of depth at pitching, so it’s important that we get outs when we can. [Thursday] we made four or five errors, but today we did a better job making the plays in the field that we needed to make.”
The teams are scheduled to play each other again at 9 a.m. Saturday, this time at Woodland.
I worked for 25 years as a CNC operator and in 2005 answered an ad in The Times for a freelance sports writer position. I became a full-time sports writer/columnist for The Times in February of 2016.
I enjoy researching high school athletics history, and in my spare time like to do the same, but also play video games and watch Twitch.