DECATUR — Uncharacteristic.
That was the first word used by NorthWood High School baseball coach Zach Benko to describe how the Panthers played in a 6-3 Class 3A regional semifinal loss to the Yorktown Tigers Saturday at Bellmont High School.
The Panthers managed just seven hits in the contest with four of them coming in the seventh inning while the defense committed a total of five errors
“Uncharacteristic is the only word I can use to explain this,” the coach said. “You have to give the Yorktown pitcher (junior Jacob Preston) some credit for keeping us at bay. In the field we beat ourselves. We made too many mistakes that we couldn’t afford.”
Senior Blake Cleveland said, “This is not the way we play ball. We made too many mistakes.”
Preston retired the first nine NorthWood hitters until senior Hunter Lane singled to lead off the fourth.
“Jake (Preston) has been solid for us all year,” Yorktown coach Mike Larrabee said. “We have high expectations when he is on the mound. He has three pitches — a fastball, curve and slider — that he can throw for strikes.”
NorthWood finishes the season with a 21-6 record. This was Benko’s fourth season at the Panther helm.
“This is pretty disappointing for the kids,” Benko said. “This team has enjoyed a lot of success together. It’s always tough to lose, but even more so when you didn’t play your best.
“I told the kids after the game that we still had a great season and today takes nothing away from that. The seniors are the first group to go through all four years with me. That class won three sectional titles in four years. This team is also the first one in NorthWood history to win the NLC title and a sectional championship in the same season.”