Panthers claw past Huskies in playoffs

Central 5

Sweet Home 2

In the Huskies’ final appearance on the baseball diamond this year, Central came from behind in league standings and defeated the Huskies 5-2 for third seed to state in league playoffs.

After losing their final league game to Central on May 16, the Huskies finished third place in the Capital Conference behind Stayton and Sisters. Central defeated North Marion at Sweet Home for the right to face the Huskies and fight for third seed.

Central pitcher Jordan Pratt scored a home run in the second inning leading Central to a 2-0 lead.

Husky Matt Matuszak singled in the bottom of the third. Mike Nagamatsu singled to advance Matuszak. B.J. Emmert sacrificed a fly to score Matuszak.

Trailing 2-1, the Huskies threatened to score again in the fifth with Matuszak at third and Emmert at second, but both of the next two batters, Richard Erevia and Randy Wunker, went out ending the inning.

Another Pratt home run scored two more for Central. The next Central batter singled and driven in by a double.

In the bottom of the seventh, trailing 5-2, Matuszak was out at first. Nagamatsu singled to reach base but was forced out at second on an Emmert single. Andy Ellis doubled to score Emmert. Erevia singled behind Ellis but was forced out at two on Wunker’s follow-up, ending the game.

“This was a disappointing loss,” Coach Dan Tow said. “I thought our kids came to play, and they were excited. We had people on base in nearly every inning. We just couldn’t seem to get a hit when we really needed it.

“You have to give Jordan Pratt a lot of credit. He pitched well when he needed to, and he had two huge home runs to drive in all of their runs but one.

“I thought our kids competed hard, and Randy Wunker competed well on the mound. He made a lot of big pitches, but we couldn’t come up with much run support.”

Wunker struck out six Central batters and walked four. Pratt struck out three Huskies and walked four.

At bats, Matuszak went 2-3. Nagamatsu went 2-3. Ellis went 1-3 for his double and RBI. Josh Marvin and Erevia were both 1-3.

For Central, Pratt went 2-4 with two two-run home runs.

“Our kids have had a pretty good year,” Coach Tow said. “They were extremely disappointed after the game, which tells me they expected to win. We had a heck of a run in the middle of the season to get to this game, and it was exciting to be part of all those games.

“I think after the kids get past the hurt of losing this game, they’ll realize they did some pretty good things this year.”

Central 0200 003 5 7 3

Sweet Home 0010 001 2 7 2

Central 14

Sweet Home 7

Central defeated the Huskies 14-7 earlier in the final league game on May 16 at home.

“We were kind of in a tough spot for this game,” Coach Tow said. “We had to play the game today because of rain outs, and we felt that we needed to hold back some pitchers since this game wasn’t going to affect our playoff position whether we won or lost. With the playoff just two days later, we needed to rest some arms.

“Despite that, Central really hit the ball well and did what they needed to do to get themselves into the league playoff. They’ve been playing good baseball the past few weeks, and they did again today.

“I liked the fact that we scored a bunch of runs early, but then we fell off and couldn’t put much more offense together after the first inning.”

Josh Bondesen was the losing pitcher. Erevia started the game. Emmert pitched in relief in the fifth, sixth and seventh.

At bats, Ellis went 2-3 with a double. Jake Gaskey had a double. Wunker went 1-3 with two RBIs.

Josh Bradt went 3-5 for Central hitting a three-run home run.

Central 1730 102 14 20 2

Sweet Home 6000 100 7 9 4