Panthers beat Sartell 8-1 to reach regions

Panther catcher Jordan Neubauer held tough with two tag outs at the plate against Rum River on July 28. He took a throw from Sam Solberg to cut down a leaping Nick Scardigli in the fifth, then Neubauer blocked Kevin Auth perfectly to prevent a score in the seventh.  Photos by Greg Hunt

Panther catcher Jordan Neubauer held tough with two tag outs at the plate against Rum River on July 28. He took a throw from Sam Solberg to cut down a leaping Nick Scardigli in the fifth, then Neubauer blocked Kevin Auth perfectly to prevent a score in the seventh.  Photos by Greg Hunt

Princeton overcame Sartell 8-1 in the July 31 elimination game of the Eastern Minny League West playoffs, advancing to this weekend’s Region 1C tournament in Hinckley.

Zack Ludwig, coming off a great Legion baseball season and tourney, threw seven strong innings for the host Panthers against the Stone Poneys. Jesse Zimmer tossed two scoreless relief innings to earn the save. Zimmer also ignited the Panther offense with a two-run homer for a 2-0 lead in the first inning.

In the Region 1C brackets, Princeton will open against EML East champ Mora 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3 at Brennan Field. The Panthers drafted Sartell pitcher Ron Gabrielson (.357 on season, 24 K in 25 innings) to bolster the arm depth for the region run.

• The Panthers, seeded No. 1 in the EML West, began the division playoffs well with a 5-0 win over No. 4 Nowthen on Saturday afternoon, July 27. Josh Ludwig pitched all nine innings, and the Panthers played strong defensively behind him to get the win. Eric Ostmoe was the hitting star with two run-scoring doubles against the Knights.

On a beautiful Sunday afternoon back at Hinckley’s Brennan Field, the Panthers fell to No. 2 seed Rum River 14-3 after getting out-hit 16-9. The Bandits scratched out runs against Princeton starter Kyle Connelly in the second, third and fifth innings to lead 4-0 before the Panthers cracked the scoreboard in the fifth when Jerad Goldsmith singled and later scored on Jesse Zimmer’s grounder through the right side of the infield. Panther shortstop Sam Solberg and left fielder Goldsmith both gunned out runners at home to Keep the game tight.

Eric Ostmoe was the Panthers’ hitting star in Saturday’s 5-0 win over Nowthen when he stroked two doubles.

Eric Ostmoe was the Panthers’ hitting star in Saturday’s 5-0 win over Nowthen when he stroked two doubles.

The Bandits, however, tacked on two runs in the seventh and three in the eighth to forge a 9-1 lead. Rum River then struck for five insurance runs in the ninth on three hits and two Panther errors. Princeton added its last runs in the bottom of the inning on a Brett Becklin single, a double by Mike Lorden, and a Jordan Neubauer base hit.

• A Panther win on Wednesday against Sartell will get the team into the Region 1C tournament which will be hosted Aug. 3-4 and 10-11 back at Hinckley. Princeton would likely open against the No. 1 seed from the Sauk Valley League on Saturday.

• The Panthers (12-13) closed the regular season with a 4-1 non-league road loss against Elk River July 24. Kyle Norman had two hits and an RBI against the Pioneers. Pitching duties were shared by Connelly, Becklin and Ostmoe.

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