The Theta Kappa Panthers took on the Alpha Theta Razorbacks last Tuesday in the men’s softball playoffs, winning 16-15 in a suspenseful matchup.
The Razorbacks led off with a booming home run from senior Tommy Lamper, and the first inning ended 1-0 in favor of Alpha.
The Panthers earned a walk and a single to get two men on base with no outs in the bottom of the first. Panthers’ sophomore Craig Sick hit a double to drive in two runs to finish the scoring in the first inning. It was 2-1 in favor of the Panthers.
Freshman Brad Miller and senior Joe Poarch singled for Alpha to start the second. Miller then came around to score on a sacrifice fly. Senior David Harry earned a walk with one out. Senior Cameron Miller drove in two runs with a triple to make the score 4-2 in favor of Alpha. Cameron Miller then came home on a single from senior Jeff Hammer to push the lead to three runs. Sophomore Spencer Pagliuca popped out to the pitcher to end the top of the second.
The Panthers got two men on base in the bottom of the second inning as a passed ball scored a run to cut into Alpha’s lead, and a walk loaded the bases with two outs. The Panthers’ Matthew Jacome, a sophomore, singled in a run to make the game 5-4 in favor of Alpha before the inning ended.
Alpha junior Josh Rizzo drew a walk to start the top of the third inning, and junior Rob Carlton tripled to bring Rizzo home and make it 6-4 in Alpha’s favor. Brad Miller then tripled to drive in Carlton and make it 7-4.
A sacrifice fly by Poarch drove Brad Miller home and put Alpha ahead by four runs. Junior Josiah Mann reached base with an infield single, and Harry singled to put two men on with only one out. Freshman Elliot Heichel singled to pull ahead by five, and Alpha’s lead was further expanded when Cameron Miller tripled to make it 11-4.
Hammer drew a walk before Lamper singled and Cameron Miller came home to score, making it an 8-run lead. Razorback Pagliuca sacrificed to advance Hammer, and Lamper and Rizzo singled on an error by the Panthers’ first baseman to make it 13-4.
The Panthers got two singles to put a man on first and third with no outs. Alpha’s pitcher then struck out the next batter before walking the next two to make it 13-5. A sacrifice and then an error by the first baseman made it 13-7.
The Panthers looked to continue the rally with two outs, but Brad Miller caught the next batter’s pop-up to end the third inning.
The turning point of the game came in the top of the fourth as the Alpha batting order was retired with three straight pitches. The Panthers’ comeback began with freshman Nate Chrysler’s home run to lead off the bottom of the fourth. Jacome singled, and then freshman Angel Quiles doubled to continue the Panthers’ big inning.
But the Panthers weren’t done, as Sick singled and brought home two runs to make it 13-10. Bernard Fowlkes singled, and an Alpha error brought home another run (13-11). A single brought home another run (13-12). Two outs later the Panthers had scored again to tie the game 13-13. The tenth batter of the inning popped up to end the fourth.
Alpha led off the next inning with Harry singling to start the top of the final inning for Alpha. Cameron Miller singled and made it to second on an error. Hammer came up to bat with two outs and a man on second. He singled, and Cameron Miller scored as a result, making the score a close Alpha lead 14-13. Another error by the Panthers’ pitcher brought home another run and left a runner on second (15-13).
The Panthers came up to the plate needing three runs to win. Jacome singled to start the fifth inning in the same manner as the fourth. Quiles got to second base, making it two on, none out. A sacrifice fly put runners at first and third with one out. Another ground out made it two on, two out with Fowlkes at the plate.
A late single by Brad Miller gave Alpha hope as Poarch singled to make it two on, two out in the top of the sixth, but Mann grounded out to keep Theta Kappa’s hopes alive.
A single and a walk put two on with none out as Chrysler came to the plate. He struck out looking to bring Jacome to the plate. He belted the first pitch way down the left field line, but it drifted just foul. He flew out to bring Quiles to the plate with two outs and two on. Quiles cracked the second pitch toward right field, dropping the ball just in front of the right fielder for the thrilling walk-off victory.
After the game, Panthers’ coach Sick talked about his team’s stunning win. “We didn’t give up,” he said. “We strung together a lot of hits, which we haven’t done all season, so it was nice to do that in the playoffs. We had an amazing inning where it was three pitches, three outs.”
Sick also added that the defense and pitching during the fourth inning were the biggest keys to putting the Panthers in a position to come back and win in the final inning. “My guys are awesome, and they love the game of softball,” he said. “It was a lot of fun being in the playoffs and winning one.”