Panthers’ season ends in section

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 31, 2003

LE SUEUR &045; The New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva Panthers had an early opportunity to break it open, but didn’t.

In the end, they gave their opponents too many opportunities.

It was a disappointing end to a stellar season for the Panthers, who surrendered six seventh-inning runs and lost 8-2 to St. Peter in a Section 2AA baseball game at LeSueur Thursday night.

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The Panthers, seeded No. 1 in the section, finished 18-5.

&uot;We had our chances,&uot; said coach Jeff Reese.

The Panthers took a 2-0 lead in the first inning, scoring both with two outs. Joey Balfe singled, took second on a wild pitch and came home on a Mike Hullopeter single. After Adam Warnke singled, Matt Wenzel knocked in Hullopeter with a base hit.

In the second, the Panthers missed a chance to make it 3-0 when a suicide squeeze bunt was snagged by the pitcher and turned into a double play.

The Saints, meanwhile, tied it with unearned runs in the second and third off Panther starter Brady Hullopeter.

It remained 2-2 until the seventh, when St. Peter scored six times on five hits, the biggest a three-run home run.

&uot;Brady pitched well,&uot; said Reese. &uot;He had everything going.&uot;

Six Panthers had one hit apiece &045; Balfe, Mike Hullopeter, Warnke, Wenzel, Zak Tracy and Dusty &uot;Diesel&uot; Davis.

The Panthers will graduate eight seniors &045; four of them starters &045; off this year’s squad. They are Warnke, Dan Miller, Bakken, Eric Lynne, Mike Hullopeter, Wenzel, Davis and Al Schmidt.

&uot;We had excellent chemistry on this year’s team,&uot; said Reese. &uot;Just a great bunch of kids.&uot;