PITTSBURG — The St. Mary’s Colgan baseball battled back from an early deficit and held off Riverton 10-8 in a make-up game to clinch a share of the Crawford-Neosho-Cherkokee League Title in the regular season finale Thursday at Jaycee Ballpark.
“In the preseason, I talked about how good our league was going to be,” Colgan head coach Mike Watt said. “To win the league this year is quite an accomplishment because there are so many good teams. We had to battle all year, and that’s something our kids should be proud of ... To be be co-champs with Baxter Springs is quite an accomplishment.”
The Panthers finished the regular season with a 12-2 CNC record to tie the Lions for first place. SMC is 18-2 overall.
The Rams put two runs on the board in the first inning, with the lead changing hands three times through the first three frames. Colgan pulled away from the Rams with six unanswered runs in the middle of the game to take a 10-4 lead into the seventh. Riverton plated four runs in its last at-bat, but Colgan held on for the win.
“Riverton has got a nice team, and the momentum was sliding their way when they jumped up 2-0,” Watt said. “I am very proud of our kids to bounce right back and tie the game.
“Offensively, we put the ball in play and took advantage of their mistakes. We were able to build a lead, and thank goodness we did because we knew they wouldn’t quit.”
After giving up two runs in the first inning after getting the start on the mound, Chase VanBecelaere allowed just two more runs over the next five on the way to the win for SMC. He threw 109 pitches in his six innings of work, allowing four runs on five hits, with two walks and 11 strikeouts.
“I thought Chase wasn’t quite a sharp early, and he even said himself that he felt better as the game went,” Watt said. “I thought he settled in and did a good job.”
Brynds went 3 for 4 at the plate to lead the Panthers. He had three RBIs and two runs scored.
O’Brien tallied three hits as well as an RBI in the win for SMC.
VanBecelaere and Ryan Cedeno each went 2 for 5 and scored a run, with VanBecelaere adding an RBI in the contest.
The Panthers had 12 hits as a team, with six of those going for a double.
The Panthers are in action next week as the host of the regional tournament as the top seed. After their first-round bye, Colgan takes on the winner of Marmaton Valley and Oswego at 2 p.m. on May 17 at Jaycee Ballpark.
“There is no doubt playing at home is a huge advantage for us,” Watt said. “This is our park, and everyone knows we are pretty tough to beat here.”
Lucas Davis is the sports editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at email@example.com and follow him on twitter @LDsportswriter.