Vikings and Panthers Part Two
If you are like me and enjoy the occasional quick-paced defensive baseball game that is a bit of a pitchers’ duel, then the finale of the 2 game set in back to back nights between the Spartanburg Vikings and Chapman Panthers was one for you to circle on the calendar. The Vikings took game 1 on the road 4-1 with a strong performance out of their ace Ian Squires, going 5 and ⅔ innings of 2 run (1 earned) ball on 5 hits with 2 walks and 7 strikeouts.
The finale featured another solid pitching matchup between Chapman’s Jacob Cogdell and Spartanburg’s Emory Butehorn. With how good and deep both of these 2 teams are in all facets, this series just had the feel that neither team was going to sweep, but in one game, one of them was going to have one big inning to hang a lopsided number. That feeling became a reality at Duncan Park on Thursday night.
Butehorn worked 3 up 3 down frames in each of the first 2 innings for Jesse Dyar’s Vikings, striking out 2 with a couple of fly ball outs mixed in. On the flip side, Jacob Cogdell ran into some early trouble. He worked a 1-2-3 bottom of the 1st with a K and a pair of flyouts of his own. But in the 2nd, Designated Hitter Ian Squires grounded sharply on a 1-hopper to Chapman Shortstop Jarren Metcalf, who bobbled it and was late on the throw to 1st, resulting in an error.
After Squires swiped 2nd, Andrew Dantin laid a bunt up the 3rd base line that rolled fair about halfway up the line before rolling onto the chalk for what should have been a foul ball. Instead, the home plate umpire ruled it fair, resulting in a base hit for Dantin, and advancing Squires to 3rd. Donterian Davis swung at the first pitch he saw and grounded out to short, scoring Squires unearned for the game’s first run.Cogdell settled in and struck out the next two to limit the damage to just a run heading to the 3rd inning.
Butehorn ran into a threat in the 3rd, walking Devin Roe to start the frame. He also walked the Panther DH Wesley Shipman with 1 out. After a swipe by Roe and a wild pitch, both runners were in scoring position. But, Chapman failed to break through as Butehorn got Hudson Moss and Cason Owens swinging back to back to retire the side.
The Panthers finally did break the goose egg in the 4th, cashing in on a leadoff walk by Kole Brown. Butehorn hurt his own case by throwing a pickoff attempt all the way to the tarp cylinder behind 1st base to move Brown up 2 bases, setting the stage for an easy RBI sac fly for Chapman Catcher Johan Rodriguez to knot things up at a run a piece.
Jacob Cogdell did a fantastic job of essentially earning himself a win by grinding through things to get out of a jam after his control started to go in the bottom of the 5th. After a quick first out, Chase Staley took Cogdell to a deep count, grounding out to short to end an 8 pitch at bat. Following that, Cogdell issued a 4 pitch walk to States Farr and hit Tyler Stevenson. Joe Cash loaded the bases by working a walk on a full count. The clutch moment came when Cogdell got Viking Catcher Garrett Fulmer to fly out to right on the first pitch.
Cogdell did not return to pitch in the 6th, giving way to Lawson Harris, who shut the Vikings down over the final 2 innings on just 12 pitches. He surrendered just a hit with no walks or strikeouts. Cogdell’s final line was 5 innings, 1 hit, 1 unearned run, 3 walks, and 4 strikeouts.
Now that I have spoiled the outcome for you, here is where the explosive inning happened.
Chapman broke things in the top of the 6th, finally getting to Emory Butehorn. Hudson Moss led off with a single and Cason Owens drew a walk to follow it. With 1 out, Johan Rodriguez delivered an RBI double over the 3rd baseman and down the left field line. Coleman Gray followed it with a 2 run single off of Tripp Darwin, who came in to relieve Butehorn after the Rodriguez 2 bagger. That inning sealed the loss for Emory Butehorn, whose final line was 5 and a third innings, 2 hits, 4 runs (3 earned), 4 walks, and 7 strikeouts.
Still, that was not the big inning I keep alluding to.
The Panthers really piled it on the Vikings in the top of the 7th. Spartanburg had to use 3 different arms, 2 of which did not retire a batter. The arm that started the inning gave up back to back walks to Devin Roe and Jack Settle followed by an RBI double to Wesley Shipman. After a single from Hudson Moss and hitting Cason Owens, he was taken down for Peyton Naylor. Naylor walked Kole Brown with the bases loaded to force home Jack Settle. Johan Rodriguez added another RBI to his total with a single to plate Wes Shipman.
That hit prompted one last pitching change. Dyar brought in Joe Cash, who grinded his way through the rest of the frame, but still had trouble. He collected 2 quick outs prior to surrendering a 2 run double to the 9th man to come to the dish in the inning, pinch hitter Peyton Hodge. Jack Settle popped up to 1st to retire the side, but the Panthers hung a 6 spot to make for the final score of 10-1.
Chapman was led at the plate by Johan Rodriguez with 2 hits in 4 ABs with 3 RBIs. Coleman Gray went 1 for 4 with a pair of RBIs. Wes Shipman and Kole Brown each tabbed an RBI with a combined 2 walks and 2 runs scored.
Spartanburg’s offense was led by Andrew Dantin, who went 2-3 at the plate. The Vikings’ lone RBI was tallied by Donterian Davis, who went 0 for 3. Joe Cash and States Farr combined for 3 walks.
Chapman will get back to action with a busy week starting on Tuesday, March 14th with a double header on the road at Carolina Academy. Game times are set for 5:00 and 7:30, respectively. They will follow that by starting a 2 game series with a Wednesday night home game against another 5A opponent in Hillcrest at 7:45 PM. The Panthers will wrap up the series Friday at Hillcrest (7:45 first pitch) and then turn around to play Greer at Fluor Field on Saturday at 5:00 PM.
The Vikings will begin region 2-5A play all next week with a 3 game set against the Byrnes Rebels. Games will be Monday night at 6:30 (Duncan Park), Wednesday at 6:30 (Byrnes), and Friday at 6:30 (Duncan Park).