Panthers, Colts’ game suspended in 5th inning

STEUBENVILLE – Buckeye Local stands just six outs away from advancing in the Division II East Sectional baseball tournament.

Thanks to a first-inning eruption, the Panthers held a 5-1 lead over Meadowbrook after 4 innings Tuesday. Unfortunately for Rick DeLuca’s club, darkness arrived at Vacarro Field, forcing the upper bracket semifinal to be suspended.

Weather permitting, the Panthers and Colts will finish their clash at 4 p.m. today (Buckeye will be heading to the plate).

The start of the sectional opener for both clubs was pushed back about an hour when the Cambridge-Indian Creek match went extra innings. Once play began, Buckeye wasted no time getting its offense going.

Chase Hopkins drew a leadoff walk and scored when freshman Jaren Moore drilled a double down the leftfield line. Moore scored on a Meadowbrook throwing error.

After two were out, Brandon Panepucci singled, moved to second after Derek Sebring walked and to third thanks to Erick Williams’ base hit. Panepucci scampered home on a pass ball. Sebring would score when Dominic Rose reached on an error. The final tally came via a RBI single by Josh Figurski.

The Panthers were held scoreless during their next three trips to the plate despite making good contact at the plate.

“We kept hitting the ball, but we started getting a little flat-footed at the plate” DeLuca explained. “Maybe the break will help us out. The thing was if we didn’t score any runs in the fifth, we would have had to come back anyway.

“The thing I don’t like is we had to start so late, but what are you going to do?”

Buckeye, which sports a 12-11 mark, has seven hits through four.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Borkoski was strong on the hill for the Panthers. He took a no-hitter into the fifth before surrendering a single to Jacob Quinn. He recorded 10 strikeouts (he whiffed the side in the second and third). Meadowbrook’s tally came in the fifth when Cameron Summers drew a based-loaded walk.

“He did a nice job,” DeLuca said of Borkoski. “His heat was working really well and he has an unbelievable breaking ball when it’s on.

“The only thing the delay messes up is it takes our pitcher out, but he got to throw five innings. We have some other guys who can throw so we will be alright.”

Tuesday’s suspended game forced tournament officials to make additional changes to the schedule.

Once the Buckeye Local-Meadowbrook game is completed, Minerva and Carrollton will battle in a lower bracket semifinal.

Big Red’s upper bracket semifinal match with East Liverpool, originally scheduled for today, now will be played at 4 p.m. Thursday. Edison and Cambridge will lock horns immediately following.