It’s a number that will come back to haunt the 2013 Stevens Point Area Senior High baseball team in the coming days and weeks.
A crooked number in the one column a coach hates to see in any game — let alone in the state championship game.
In an anomaly for a team that prided itself on playing solid defense throughout a magical run to the WIAA Division 1 state championship game — the Panthers racked up six errors Thursday night.
And it’s not like the Panthers were trying to make mistakes. Just one bad game in the field came at the wrong time.
Error No. 6 proved to be one mistake the Panthers were unable to overcome as Sun Prairie capitalized on a fielding error to open the top of the eighth inning and scored an unearned run in a 5-4 loss for SPASH at Fox Cities Stadium.
“We tried to make plays, we just didn’t make the plays, and we tried to fight through it,” said senior shortstop Eric Zelhofer.
It speaks volumes about the heart and fight of the Panthers for sending the game to extra inning with a comeback of all comebacks in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Refusing to let a couple errors ruin their season, the Panthers fought through all the adversity to score a pair of runs after two outs on Sterling King’s two-run single.
SPASH coach Kraig Terpstra said he was caught in a tough position weighing the best defensive team he could put on the field against what might help the Panthers match up best against Sun Prairie on the mound.
“Sun Prairie is a good team and they took advantage of their strengths against each of our pitchers on the mound,” Terpstra said. “I would say we probably made more mistakes tonight than we had in our last 15 games combined.”
SPASH pitchers Aaron Nickel and Sterling King had the backs of their teammates, however, pitching out of trouble more often than not.
And despite the mistakes, the Panthers were still very much in a position to pull the game out and bring home the first state title since 1989.
The problem was making solid contact against Sun Prairie reliever Brett Yoder, who limited them to just four hits over the final six innings of the game.
He also struck out seven, and that perhaps more than anything, prevented SPASH from putting more runs on the board and enabling their defense to relax.
“It was uncharacteristic defense and we struck out too much,” Terpstra said. “We didn’t make them have to play that good defense.
“But we still were good enough to have a chance to win, and we still didn’t quit.”
And those qualities were typical of the Panthers all season.