Baseball: Putnam County can’t come up with key hits in regional final loss

Aurora Christian takes early lead, shuts down Panthers’ offense

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GRANVILLE – The Putnam County baseball team had some chances, but was unable to come up with the big hit in Saturday’s Class 1A Putnam County Regional championship.

Aurora Christian, on the other hand, did take advantage of its chances as the Eagles’ early runs were enough to propel them to a 6-0 victory.

The Panthers were the visitors despite being on their home field, and Andrew Pyszka got PC’s bats going right away with a double.

He advanced on a sacrifice bunt from Blake Billups, but that is where the threat stopped as Connor Kendall was on cruise control on the mound for the Eagles.

“The story of the day was we left guys on the bases,” Putnam County coach Chris Newsome said. “We started off the game getting guys on, but were just unable to get that big hit to jump start us.”

The Eagles did get the hits when they needed as they plated a pair of runs in the first.

“The story of the day was we left guys on the bases. We started off the game getting guys on, but were just unable to get that big hit to jump start us.”

—  Chris Newsome, Putnam County coach

Ryan Jones led off with a single to left and then stole second. Adan Rocha walked and Rudy Griffin picked up an RBI single.

Two batters later, Josh Elwood hit sacrifice fly to center to push the lead to 2-0.

“That’s kind of been our MO lately,” Aurora Christian coach Andy Zorger said. “We have been jumping on teams early and getting the momentum early.”

After the Panthers went down in order with three straight strikeouts, the Eagles offense went back to work.

Owen Niedzwiecki reached on a fielder’s choice and advanced on a wild pitch and then Jones hit a rocket that bounced over the glove of Troy Petty at first for an RBI double to make it 3-0.

Rocha made it 4-0 with an RBI single to left and Griffin singled to left, but Billups came firing to Nick Currie at home for the final out of the second.

The Panthers led off the third with a single to center from Johnathon Stunkel.

Pyszka and Currie walked to load the bases with two outs, but McDonald lined right to the centerfielder for the final out.

In the bottom of the third, the Eagles added another run when Diego Huerta hit an infield single and advanced to third after a wild pitch and a groundout scoring on a wild pitch for a 5-0 lead.

In the top of the fourth, the Panthers stranded two more runners.

The Eagles added an insurance run in the bottom half with an RBI groundout by Andrew Hernandez.

Putnam County put two on in the sixth, but a 1-6-3 double play helped stop the momentum.

“This group of kids has worked so hard this season,” Newsome said. “They overcame injury after injury. Pyszka was back-to-back all state and missed 17 or 18 games. We were just starting to get things going. I feel like another week and who knows, but these guys are amazing. Jackson is just a workhorse and he’s our guy on the mound. I wouldn’t change that at all. We got 10 seniors who have just battled. It’s unfortunate, but that’s baseball. The guys coming back, sky’s the limit.”