Falcons drop game three to Panthers

As Andy Wilbanks gathered his team in the outfield in the pouring rain, he told them that it was not meant to be. The Falcons held a 3-0 advantage in its deciding game against Pine Grove, but the Panthers took the contest to extra innings, winning 8-6 Monday night.

“The miscues, that’s Ingomar’s baseball season in one word,” Wilbanks said. “For whatever reason, it just wasn’t meant for us to win. I don’t know why, it just wasn’t meant to be.”

The mistakes haunted the Falcons in its game one loss last Friday, as well as the pitching of Blake West, who held Ingomar to only one run off two hits. On Monday, the Falcons committed three costly errors that resulted in five Panther runs with two outs in the fifth inning.

Jimmy Spires’ double in the sixth scored another run for the Panthers, but Ingomar would battle back in the final two innings, scoring two off a hit by Austin Sanders in the sixth and walking in the game-tying run in the seventh.

Pine Grove broke the tie in the ninth, scoring one run off an error and walking in another run with bases loaded. Austin Gregory started the Falcons’ rally in the bottom half, but was caught in a double play that Ingomar could not recover from.

“Pine Grove did an excellent job, played their hearts out,” Wilbanks said. “These guys, I love them. They work hard and these seniors have worked hard to build our program. We’re going to miss them, and the guys returning will be expected to step up and fill some big roles.”

Ingomar built its early lead, scoring one off a single by Chris Swords and another off an error in the second inning. Tanner McCollum would later add the third run with his leadoff home run in the third. The Falcons would finish with seven hits and were walked 12 times, leaving 15 runners on base in the game.

Tyler Dowdy and Austin Sanders shared the pitching duties, with Dowdy striking out eight over six innings and Sanders had seven strikeouts in the final three.

“Sanders did a good job, and that’s the bright thing, we had two sophomores out there tonight and they’re coming back the next two years, so we’ll lean on them to win baseball games,” Wilbanks said.

Spires led the Pine Grove offense with three hits, while Andrew Hopper and Zak Thornton added two each, and the Panthers will now face Falkner in the second round.

“West Union is still in it,” Wilbanks said. “We’ll be rooting hard for our county team and Pine Grove is a class team, so I wish the best for them.”

 Ingomar ends their 2011 season as the Region 2-1A champs.