By Mike Zummo
The Wallkill baseball team had brought the tying run to the plate after having two outs and nobody on in the seventh inning.
Logan Volz sent a shot that appeared destined for the left-center field gap and bring home two more runs, but Highland’s Ethan Thompson had other plans, making a diving catch on Volz’s liner to end the game, sending the Panthers to a 7-4 loss on Wednesday afternoon at Highland High School.
“That’s a bad loss for us,” Wallkill coach T.D. Mills said. “We left a lot of guys on base offensively. Our plate-approach was poor. Defensively, we were playing too deep in the outfield. The scouting report said to play shallow. We had poor communication, which led to runs. We had too many walks and too many passed balls by the catcher. We had too many mistakes.”
The Panthers entered the seventh inning, trailing the Huskies, by five runs and Highland pitcher Zach Angelone got two quick outs to start the inning, but the Panthers made the third out elusive.
Kyle DeGroat singled and Chase Hermance drew a walk, setting up James Lee’s RBI single. Hermance eventually came around to score on a throw when Jack Rauschenbach singled to cut the Highland lead to 7-4.
Then with two men on, Thompson, who started the game on the mound for the Huskies, ended the rally ending the Panthers’ three-game winning streak, and sending Highland to its first win of the season. The Panthers, who started the season with two losses, started their streak with a win over Marlboro on May 6, and then routed New Paltz and Rondout Valley, heading into Thursday’s league game against Red Hook.
Mid-Hudson Athletic League teams are playing a 10-game season that will end on May 24. The Panthers picked up non-league games to fill the gap.
Plus, the Panthers entered the season short three pitchers. One didn’t come out for the team, and two others suffered arm injuries and with four games last week, and another three this week, pitching depth could become an issue.
“That hurts our pitching staff,” Mills said. “We still have guys that can throw but we’re going to take some lumps on some of the days as we don’t have guys that are overpowering.”
Kyle DeGroat, a freshman got the start for the Panthers, and gave up four runs in three innings. He gave up a run in the second on Adam Brennie’s RBI single and three in the second on RBI singles by Ian Warren and Logan Scott. Thompson came into score on a passed ball.
“(Kyle’s) done a nice job as a freshman,” Mills said. “The other kid we have is a sophomore. He’s done a great job, too, as a sophomore. We have two young kids who probably would have been pitching on JV had to step up because we lost some guys.”
Jacob Quiles relieved DeGroat in the fourth, and after letting two men get on base, he escaped by striking out Thompson and then getting Warren to line into a double play. He gave up two runs in the sixth inning on an RBI double by Matt Dubois and Thompson’s RBI single, but the damage could have been worse as Liam Whalen was thrown out trying to score, and Thompson was thrown out on second base trying to stretch a single.
“I told the kids they did a good job hitting the ball and we made some nice defensive relays, getting a guy out at home plate, and little things like that,” Mills said. “But we’ve got to learn from our mistakes.”
The Panthers rebounded with a 13-0 win over Red Hook on Senior Day and finished the week with a 6-1 win over Minisink Valley on Friday.