Costly errors and a strong Kingwood Park pitching performance doomed the Santa Fe Indians in Thursday’s 4-0 loss in Game 1 of their Region III-5A quarterfinal series at Jim Ethan Field in Deer Park.
Helped by fielding miscues, the Panthers were able to break onto the scoreboard with a three-run top of the third inning.
Matthew Burke reached base on a one-out error at third base, and Bryson Jackson followed with a single. After a strikeout, Chase Ferem was intentionally walked to load the bases, but the next batter, Ryan Long, made the Indians pay for that move, chopping an RBI single. An error at shortstop made the Kingwood Park lead 2-0, and courtesy runner Josh Schreiber scored on a passed ball for the third run of the frame.
More Santa Fe mistakes allowed Kingwood Park to tack on another run in the top of the seventh in a two-out rally. Pinch hitter Parker Roberts drew a walk, which was followed by a Ferem single lined to left, where the ball got by the left fielder, allowing Roberts to score and Ferem to reach second.
The Indians’ best opportunities to score came when they had runners at second and third in both the bottom of the fourth and fifth.
In the fourth, starting pitcher Rome Shubert hit a one-out single and Cayge Abbott drew a two-out walk. Both runners advanced on a balk, but Santa Fe couldn’t come through with a clutch hit.
In the fifth, the Indians got a two-out rally going with Tyler Martin reaching on an error and Grant Pfaff (2-for-4) lacing a single through the right side of the infield. Again, both runners advanced, this time on a passed ball, but, again, Santa Fe couldn’t find an RBI base knock.
“We had opportunities,” Santa Fe head coach Ronnie Wulf said. “I know we had at least two innings with runners on second and third with two outs, and we just didn’t get it done.”
Making the outcome even more frustrating for the Indians was the fact that they spoiled an excellent outing on the mound from Shubert (six innings, four hits, three unearned runs, one walk, 11 strikeouts).
“He didn’t get any support today, none, not even at the plate,” Wulf said.
The Panthers’ Jackson Rodriguez (6.1 innings, three hits, three walks, six strikeouts) picked up the win on the mound.
Santa Fe will try to keep its postseason alive in Game 2 of the best-of-three series, which will be back at Kethan Field at 7 p.m. Friday.
“It’s a new day tomorrow, and we’ve got to come out fighting,” Wulf said. “There ain’t no tomorrow, it’s got to be now, or we’re done.”