Solid pitching was one of the main storylines of the single varsity game Wednesday evening between the St. Mary's Colgan Panthers and the Nevada Tigers at JayCee Ballpark.
Nevada's Easton Mitchell earned a complete game 4-1 victory and Colgan received innings from senior Christian Cedeno, sophomore Chase VanBecelaere, sophomore Ryan Cedeno and senior Drew Dawson in the Panthers' opener.
"It was a loss but we did a lot of good things in it for early in the season," Colgan head coach Mike Watt said. "I thought Christian threw exceptionally well. Chase VanBecelaere came in and threw well. Ryan came in and threw well. Ryan struggled a little bit but he regrouped and I thought finished well. Drew Dawson came in and pitched well.
"We made some very good plays defensively. Colton Gilbert, a couple in center field and Ryan Kinyon in right and we turned a double play. I mean, we did a lot of good things but we didn't do enough to beat a good team. We made three-four errors. Really, we were pretty good mentally but physically, we had some mistakes and we're going to have to learn from that."
Colgan lost, despite its pitchers combining to allow four hits, and Watt talked about the errors and silly plays which allowed Nevada to win the game. Never mind Colgan left six runners on, Nevada three in a game decided by three runs.
Nevada began the scoring in the first. After Kinyon made a catch in right against Lane Ketterman and Gilbert made a diving catch in center on a rope by Mitchell, third baseman Cole Sanderson avoided those problems by hitting the ball over the left field wall, Nevada up 1-0 on a solo home run. Alex Payne flew out to center to end the inning — all four batters hit the ball in the air.
Mitchell started out struggling on the mound. His warmup pitchers were traveling high in the zone, a trend which continued during walks to Colgan hitters Gilbert and Dawson. Gilbert walked, stole second and scored Colgan's first run of the season on a Christian Cedeno shot down the left field line.
The Panthers had the bases loaded — Christian Cedeno on third, Ryan Cedeno on second and Dawson on first — for junior first baseman Kaleb Hamilton.
Hamilton made solid contact but straight at Sanderson, who kept the score at 1-all by starting a 5-2-3 inning ending double play. Sanderson threw out Christian Cedeno at home and Nevada catcher Brett Mitchell threw out Hamilton. The ball was hit so sharply that it played right into the hands of the Tigers.
With two outs, Nevada scored the go-ahead run in the second. Tyler Ketterman found enough room in right for a double and scored on a Colgan throwing error on a Taylor Manes grounder.
Nevada scored two more in the sixth — wild pitches, double steals, throwing errors and dropped third strikes, as well as Easton Mitchell's leadoff single.
The Tigers opened their season Tuesday against Fort Scott and run-ruled their fellow Tigers, 11-0, behind a Grant Wolfe three-hit shutout.
Colgan began last season 0-3 with losses to Nevada and Frontenac but started playing its best baseball at the right time en route to a Class 3A state title.
The Panthers favor playing a tough nonconference schedule in addition to the rigors of the Crawford-Neosho-Cherokee League.
"Overall, our nonconference schedule is very good," Watt said. "We're going to have to compete every day with our nonconference and we get into our conference games and they're very competitive as well. We don't have anybody on our schedule that we can afford to make mistakes. I thought mentally, we were pretty good. Physically, I expected a few mistakes and you just can't do that against a team like Nevada. They've got a very nice team and they're going to be a team to watch throughout the spring. I think they're going to go deep in the postseason."
Easton Mitchell improved over the course of the game and picked up half of his strikeout total by striking out the side 1-2-3 in the seventh.
The Tigers feature multiple seniors — Wolfe, Ketterman, Easton Mitchell, Sanderson, Payne and Brett Norton — with plenty of varsity experience.
"The group of seniors, I don't know how many they have, but probably five-six of them have started since they were freshmen," Watt said. "They're a very veteran team and we just made some mistakes that you can't do."
Nevada will return to Pittsburg on Apr. 12 to face the Purple Dragons in their home opener after seven road games against Columbus, Girard, Chanute and Fort Scott.
Meanwhile, the Panthers open CNC play Monday by hosting Frontenac.
TIGERS 4, PANTHERS 1
NEV 110 002 0 — 4 4 0
SMC 100 000 0 — 1 6 4
Easton Mitchell and Brett Mitchell. Christian Cedeno, Chase VanBecelaere (4), Ryan Cedeno (6), Drew Dawson (7) and R. Cedeno, Aaron Twarog (6). WP: E. Mitchell (1-0). LP: C. Cedeno (0-1). E: R. Cedeno, C. Cedeno, Austin Kratz, Joe Kolarik. HR: Cole Sanderson. 2B: Tyler Ketterman; C. Cedeno. SH: Ryan Kinyon. SB: E. Mitchell, Sanderson; R. Cedeno 3, C. Cedeno, Colton Gilbert. LOB: NEV 3, SMC 6.