Panthers end regular season with three wins
Ending the regular season with a six-game winning streak should give the Park Rapids baseball team plenty of momentum entering the Section 8AA playoffs.
The Panthers closed the regular season with a 12-0 five-inning win at Bagley Thursday and a Mid-State Conference doubleheader sweep against Crosby-Ironton at Crosby Friday, following a 12-4 win in the first game with a 13-4 five-inning win in the second game.
Against Bagley, the Panthers relied on a 10-hit attack and a seven-run first inning in coasting to the win.
Jason Haas' RBI double, two-out singles by Zach Hocking, Lucas Dickinson, Zach Severtson and Tristin Persons, and two errors gave the Panthers a quick 7-0 lead.
Singles by Austin Jerger and Gabe Bagstad produced a run in the second while singles by Jerger and Brendan Kruchowski sparked a two-run fourth. Three walks and a single by Cameron Hoyt led to the game's final two runs in the fifth.
Jerger went 2 for 4 to lead the offense while Hocking threw a three-hitter and struck out six for the win as Bagley fell to 4-11.
Park Rapids belted out 15 hits to defeat C-I in the opener Friday.
Kruchowski singled during a two-run second while RBI doubles by Hocking and Bagstad and an RBI single by Kruchowski with two outs sparked a three-run third.
The Panthers scored an unearned run in the fourth before pushing across six runs in the sixth on singles by Persons, Ty Karger, Hocking and Bagstad and Severtson's two-run inside-the-park home run.
Hocking went 4 for 5 while Persons, Karger, Kruchowski and Bagstad contributed two hits apiece. Severtson was the winning pitcher.
In the regular-season finale, the Panthers took advantage of six hit batters, five errors and three walks to go along with eight hits in completing the sweep.
The Rangers led 4-1 before Persons' RBI single cut the gap to 4-3 in the second. A 10-run third inning sealed the win as three hit batters, three walks, two singles apiece by Persons and Haas, and a two-run double by Bagstad ended the scoring.
Persons and Haas both went 3 for 3 to help Kruchowski pick up the win.
The sweep gave the Panthers second place in the conference standings with a 7-3 record. Pequot Lakes won the Mid-State title at 8-2. Detroit Lakes finished 6-4 while Aitkin and Staples-Motley went 3-9 Crosby-Ironton finished with a 2-8 record in the conference and 5-13 overall record.
Park Rapids ended the regular season with an 11-6 overall record and received the No. 3 seed in the North for the Section 8AA tournament. The Panthers hosted No. 6 Roseau (8-8) Tuesday in the first round with the winner advancing to the next round of double-elimination play Thursday (May 31) at 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. at Park Rapids. Park Rapids will host the section finals on June 5.