To a first-time observer, Cotter High School’s late-inning breakdown Friday could be called heartbreaking.
But for the Ramblers, it was the same song and dance that has been playing all year.
Cotter took a 3-2 lead into the seventh inning Friday, May 20 behind some clutch hitting and solid pitching, but couldn’t hold on as the Pine Island Panthers piled on eight runs on just two hits and five fielding errors by the Ramblers. The Panthers would hold onto this lead in the bottom of the seventh to win 10-4 over the Ramblers.
The Ramblers, (2-11 HVL, 3-11 overall), are not strangers to this type of game.
“That’s the fifth time that’s happened to us this year,” senior Steven Tofstad said of the late inning loss.
Down 2-0 in the fifth, the Ramblers’ John DeMarais singled with two outs to score David Holien. Joe Miller followed the at bat with a double that scored Alex Hefel and pinch runner Ryan Kammerer to give the Ramblers a 3-2 lead.
The seventh inning was riddled mistakes, however, as Daniel Karnick, the starting pitcher for the Ramblers, began the inning by hitting Panther Aaron Waletzko.
The first of five errors in the inning came next as Pine Island’s Nathan Kukson laid a bunt down the third baseline that was fielded cleanly by Miller, but thrown into right field allowing Waletzko to advance to third and Kukson to second. Pinch hitter Josh Torkelson of Pine Island then broke the game wide open by lining a single into right field, scoring the two base runners and giving the Panthers a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
“We haven’t been able to close games in the seventh this year,” Cotter Coach Nick Whaley said. “We need to start playing better for playoffs.”
Whaley expressed hope for the rest of the year. Despite some struggles at the plate, pitching for the Ramblers has been solid and the players continue to work hard, he said.