The decisive game of the best-of-three series takes place at 5:30 p.m. today at Pope.
Pope totaled only five hits in the first game, but responded for 11 in the second. Eleven batters came to the plate in the fourth inning. Nathaniel Lowe blasted a three-run home run that put the Greyhounds in front 5-0 and Jared Parker’s two-out single plated courtesy runner Logan Taylor and Brett Lyle for a 9-0 advantage.
Ryan Peurifoy homered for the Panthers in the bottom of the fifth to trim the deficit to 9-1. Then Starr’s Mill responded with a six-run sixth inning to trim the deficit to 9-7.
Jacob Ramos collected the final out in the sixth with a runner on second base, and retired the side in the seventh to help the Greyhounds snap Starr’s Mill’s 15-game winning streak. Today’s contest will mark Pope’s third straight series Game 3 of this year’s postseason.
“We’ve been in two Game 3’s already,” Pope coach Jeff Rowland said. “Starr’s Mill hasn’t. They’ve been on a win streak, so it will be interesting to see how they bounce back from a loss. But, you can’t say enough about being able to play (at home). So, we have some things in our favor, and we just have to take advantage of them (today).”
Those advantages weren’t available in Game 1. The Panthers scored six runs off five hits in the second inning and collected three runs in the third for a 9-0 advantage.
Artie Kadkhodaian hit a two-out, three-run home run in the fourth to extend the Panthers lead to 12-0 and two more runs crossed home in the fifth for the final margin.
Kadkhodaian batted 1-for-4 with a homer, four RBI and scored twice for Starr’s Mill in Game 1, while Ryan Peurifoy batted 2-for-3, including a 3-run homer in the second, with four RBI and was walked twice. Ryan Avidano gave up two hits over three innings to earn the victory.
Pope used five pitchers in Game 1 and put three more on the mound in the nightcap to hold off the Panthers rally.
“We still have two or three guys we haven’t thrown yet,” Rowland said. “Pitching-wise, we’re probably okay. So, we’re trying to get through this, yet trying to save some arms. They’re fresh, so we’ll run them out there and see what happens.”
The Greyhounds responded from their bitter loss to plate three runs in the third and sixth in the fourth of Game 2. Mason Shiflett was 3-for-5 with two RBI, while Lowe batted 1-for-4 with three RBI. Wes Smith was 1-for-3 with a two RBI, Johnny Flading batted 2-for-3 with a double and a RBI and Jared Parker had two singles and a RBI. Harrison Siegal also scored twice.
“Each series we talk about, especially doubleheader days, that they’re two individual games,” Rowland said. “We got thumped pretty good in the first game, but I told them it doesn’t matter if it’s 14-0 or 1-0, it was a loss and it’s over with. We flush it and we move on.
“They came out with a good mind set in the second game. Luckily, we had enough runs to outlast them a little bit. I’m proud of the guys. They’ve been resilient all year. We came out swinging the bats, which is what has kept us in games. We live for another day.”
Patrick Wiseman collected the win after allowing two earned runs off seven hits over five innings. Ramos picked up the save.
“I just told (Ramos) to have fun,” Rowland said. “He’s a battler. He really hadn’t thrown a lot, maybe four or five innings on our J.V. He’s come back from some arm issues early in the season, so he really didn’t get a bunch of innings down there.
“He threw for us as a freshman and he competed then, and in that situation, that’s what you want is a guy that’s going to compete. He earned his stripes in the heat of battle in one of our other postseason series this year and he got thrown back out there again and did a great job. He kept us alive.”