Panthers fall short of district title

Baldwin rallies for win against CCA in opener, falls to Pentwater in championship

CUSTER — Baldwin’s baseball team gave up a lot of runs to open the day and a lot more to close it.

DELIVERY: Baldwin’s Brandon Childress launches a pitch toward home plate during Friday’s district championship game. (Pioneer photo/John Raffel)

The results were a 12-11 victory over Crossroads in the semifinals of the Division 4 districts at Mason County Eastern, followed by an 18-8 loss in six innings to Pentwater in the title game.

In the first game, Baldwin had spotted Crossroads a 9-0 lead after two innings, then came back including with three runs the bottom of the seventh to score the victory.

But in the title game, Baldwin took an 8-7 lead into the bottom of the sixth when the Pentwater bats erupted for 11 runs to close the game on the mercy rule

The Panthers had scored two runs in the second, one in the third, two in the fourth and three in the sixth. Penwater had one in the first, one in the second and five in the third before the 11-inning explosion.

“We didn’t make the plays in the outfield,” Baldwin coach Doug Bolles said after the second game.

Damon Nichols was 2-for-4 with an RBI while Brenton Childress was 2-for-3 with an RBI and Brandon Childress 1-for-2 with an RBI. “We battled back and we knew they were going to hit and they did.”

Brandon Childress went the distance on the mound and took the loss.

Baldwin’s season ended at 9-15 while Pentwater takes a 14-5 record to the regionals.

“I have a lot of underclassmen,” Bolles aid. “Obviously, we’re disappointed today but are excited about next year.”

In the first game, Crossroads, despite giving up a 9-0 lead, took an 11-9 advantage into the bottom of the seventh. The first two Baldwin runners reached base and Da’Ron Copeland slapped an RBI single. A forecourt brought home the tying run and a basesloaded walk to Brenton Childress produced the winning run.

Crossroads had scored eight runs in the first inning.

“They put the ball in play,” Bolles said. “Out of the eight runs, six were earned. Then they scored an unearned run in the third inning and two runs in the sixth. I thought it would be too much for us.”

Alan Clugston was the winning pitcher and fanned 11 batters.

“After that first inning, he did a great job and he knuckled down,“ Bolles said.

Baldwin had four runs in the third, one in the fifth, four in the sixth and three in the seventh.

Brandon Childress had four hits and three RBIs.

“Brandon had a fabulous game,” Bolles said. “He had two great diving catches in the outfield. “

Brenton Childress had three hits with a double and two RBIs.

“We just kept battling,” Bolles said. “I’m, really happy to be in the district finals. That’s all we wanted was the opportunity to (get in the district finals). Now we have it.” Ben Martinez was the losing pitcher. He went the first six innings and then was relieved in the seventh by Brian Smithey. Martinez was reponsible for the winning runner on base. He struck out five during his tenure.

Dylan Balsitis had a single, triple and three RBIs for Crossroads while Ben Martinez had two hits, a double and three RBIs and Brooks Angell two hits and two RBIs.

“It was very tough,” Crossroads coach Ed Milam said of the loss. “The kids played hard. We started a freshman. He pitched another good one. We made crucial errors at the end. That’s what cost us.”

Crossroads ended at 6-22.

“We’re a young team, “Milam said. “It’s a young team that makes mistakes.”


Posted by John Raffel

John is a sports reporter with the Pioneer as well as the Herald Review and The Lake County Star. He also coordinates the weekly Pioneer sports outdoors page. He can be reached at (231) 592-8356 or by email at

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