May 8, 2012

Panthers finish season as state runner-ups


The Amber-Pocasset baseball team got about as close as a team can get to a state championship without actually hoisting the trophy Saturday afternoon at Palmer Field, but two swings of the bat changed the fate of the Panthers’ season.

Amber-Pocasset lost the game 5-2 to the Rattan Rams, but the game was closer than even that score would indicate. With the game tied going into the seventh inning, Rattan took control with two home runs that put the Panthers down for good.

Head coach Cheyenne Graham was still upbeat after the defeat, focusing on the big picture of what the Panthers accomplished in the season gone by.

“I’m proud of my kids; I’m not disappointed with the loss,” Graham said. “We’ve done something this season that a lot of teams would love to do. I’m proud of my kids, and I’m happy for them. It’s going to be tough to see these guys go.”

Tensions were high on both sides as the game drew nearer to a conclusion, with both teams deadlocked. Something had to give, but no one knew what the breaking point would be.

Asked how he felt going into the bottom of the sixth inning, Amber-Pocasset assistant coach Zach Warner’s answer summed up the intensity of the game.

“Like I’m about to puke,” Warner replied with a laugh.

Jonathan Samuels hit a two-run home run in the top of the seventh inning to break the 2-2 tie. Right after that, pitcher Blake Watts helped his own cause with a solo shot to extend the Rams’ lead.

Samuels had already made some noise earlier in the state tournament, having hit two home runs in Rattan’s semifinals game, including the go-ahead runs.

Up to that point in the game, Am-Po starting pitcher Ryan Cauthen had pitched a strong game. Rattan had scored two runs in the top of the fourth on two doubles; Cauthen had only allowed one other hit, a single, before the seventh inning.

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