ANN ARBOR — DeWitt made it to the final stages of the baseball season once again with reserves from a year ago stepping into bigger roles.
And those players tried to help the Panthers dig out of an early hole and reach the state semifinals for a second straight season.
They fell a little short Tuesday night and DeWitt’s season ended with a 10-5 loss to Adrian in a Division 2 quarterfinal at the University of Michigan’s Ray Fisher Stadium.
“The run was great,” DeWitt coach Alan Shankel said. “The accomplishments of these guys were outstanding. We won a conference, a district (and) regional. I’m most proud about how we battled tonight. We were in a hole facing a tough pitcher and a good team in Adrian and we didn’t ever back off. We didn’t feel sorry for ourselves. We just kept playing to give ourselves a chance. That’s what I’m most proud of.
“The way these guys battled against adversity – I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Senior Jared Miller reached base four times, junior Trevor Kapp had a two-run double and junior Donovan Tarn had two hits for the Panthers, who conclude the season 26-13-1.
“We were a young team at the beginning of the year and throughout it we pulled together and became a stronger team and we were able to make a good run in the tournament,” Miller said. “Unfortunately it ended this way, but I was really proud of the way we pulled together and had our seniors step us as leaders and mentor the younger kids. Hopefully they can go on and mentor the kids after them.”
Despite battling throughout Tuesday’s contest, the Panthers squandered a pair of early opportunities with the bases loaded that were costly. Connor Grice was hit by a pitch to plate a run in the second inning before Adrian pitcher and Michigan State signee Matt Clark got a groundout to end the inning and help the Maples overcome two earlier errors in the frame.
But the biggest stretch came in the fourth – the second time DeWitt had the bases loaded. The Panthers had pulled within two after scoring a pair of runs and loaded the bases when Michael Stygles was walked. But Clark struck out the next two Panther hitters to get out of trouble.
Jesse Noce then delivered a two-run double in the fifth to cap a three-run inning as Adrian, which scored in every inning but the third, regained control.
“We each had opportunities,” Shankel said. “I think they came through on more of their opportunities than we did. We said sometimes you win a game, sometimes you lose a game and sometimes the other team wins it. That’s what I feel like this game was. I don’t think we gave it away, I think they took it. That’s credit to Adrian. That’s a good ball team.”
Contact Brian Calloway at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @brian_calloway.