TROY – The quest to go where no Jersey High baseball team had gone came up short for the Panthers on Thursday in the Triad Class 3A Sectional.
Yet they took solace in a successful season.
Jersey bowed to Mascoutah, 9-1, in a semifinal game and closed its season at 24-13. It’s the second most wins in school history. The 1995 team, guided by Ken Schell, won 26 games and a large-school regional championship.
The Panthers, winners of last week’s Highland Regional, aimed at securing their first sectional title. But Mascoutah, now 31-6, had other ideas.
The Indians, also striving for their first sectional crown, struck early against the Panthers and kept going. Mascoutah meets 27-9 Salem at 11 a.m. Saturday for the sectional championship and a berth in Monday’s Sauget Super-Sectional at GSC Ballpark.
“They jumped on us early and we didn’t play our best game,” Jersey coach Darren Perdun said. “They found the holes with their hits and they did what they had to do. It was their day.”
Mascoutah coach Don Eddy exhorted the Indians to make things happen in a hurry against the Panthers. And that’s what they did in beating Jersey for the second time in three games this season.
“We put some numbers on the board and scored in several different innings,” Eddy said. “We’ve been preaching all season to score early and often.”
Winning pitcher Ryan Netemeyer benefited from the Indians’ robust 12-hit attack. Netemeyer, now 9-0, gave up just four hits and a run in 5.1 innings. He went 2-for-3 at the plate and drove in three runs. Teammate Collin Renth was 3-for-4 and reached base five times.
“Ryan did a good job with his location and our defense played well,” Eddy said.
Jersey made four errors, putting starting pitcher Crick Kimble under ample pressure. He allowed seven runs in six innings, but just three of them were earned. Kimble was 2-for-3 to pace the Jersey attack.
Netemeyer’s sacrifice fly in the opening inning gave Mascoutah a 1-0 lead. The Indians made it 4-0 by the third and 5-0 in the fourth. Jersey got its lone run in the fourth when Kimble singled, advanced to second on a wild pitch and eventually scored on Hunter Bryant’s sacrifice fly.
“They made the plays and we didn’t do that,” Perdun said. Jersey was without outfielder Kyle Obertino, vacationing in Hawaii. Second baseman Kyle Steckel was coping with a migraine headache and Luke Shively was nursing a sore hip.
Still, Perdun wasn’t offering excuses. He knows that one game doesn’t make a season. So Perdun has plenty to be proud of in the 2014 Panthers. They captured their first regional title since 2003 and their sixth in school history.
“I love my seniors to death. They are great kids and gave everything they had,” he said. “I’ll miss them.”
With Jake Varble, Luke Shively and Kimble – among other key players – coming back next season, Perdun foresees big things.
“Our kids have a come a long way and they know what they need to do to be successful,” he said.