Panthers move on to area round, Keller bows out

Posted Monday, May. 06, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Fossil Ridge advanced to the area round of the Class 5A baseball playoffs after posting 6-4 and 14-0 wins over Arlington Bowie last week.

The Panthers, 26-6-1, now move on to play El Paso Montwood this Friday and Saturday at Odessa College. Game 1 is at 4 p.m. Friday, with Game 2 at noon Saturday and Game 3 (if necessary) 45 minutes after the end of Game 2.

Fossil Ridge pounded out 15 hits against Bowie in the first game of the best-of-three format, but head coach Doug Delany said his batters just couldn’t get timely hits to distance themselves from the Volunteers.

“Their number one pitcher (TCU commit Robby Mendel) was pretty good, but we hit him better than their other pitchers,” Delany said.

Sheldon Neuse got the win in relief in the first game on Thursday for Fossil Ridge and hit a key home run for the Panthers.

Hayden Hibler threw a complete game and got the win in the second game for the Panthers.

“The second game they walked us and made some errors,” Delany said.

Helping themselves in addition to the Bowie errors, Fossil Ridge hitters Kenniel Rivera-Gonzalez and Austin Ingraham had big nights, with Rivera-Gonzalez, who was the starting pitcher on Thursday, collecting a triple and a home run. Ingraham added a double and a triple.

Now the focus turns toward Montwood, a team Fossil Ridge has a little bit of knowledge on.

“Carroll played them in round four last year and we’ve scouted their series in the first round,” Delany said. “They’ve also played another area team earlier this season.”

Montwood beat Amarillo Tascosa in two, 1-run games in the first round.

“The kids are looking forward to it,” Delany said of going to the Area round. “It’s back to the grind, though,” Delany said. “It really is one series at a time. We’ll head into a new week of practice. It takes a lot of mental toughness to focus on the next game. There are a lot of distractions.”

Delany said the farthest Fossil Ridge has played into the postseason was a regional semifinals loss to Canyon Randall in 2008.

Keller wasn’t quite so fortunate in their opening playoff series.

The Indians took District 3-5A champion Arlington Martin into extra innings before dropping the first game 7-6 and then gave up the series- and season-ending Game 2, 5-3.

“It’s disappointing in that had a chance to win both games,” said Keller head coach, Rob Stramp. “It’s been a little bit of a pattern for us in games we lost. We can’t get hits to get over the hump.”

Stramp said the hump-busting has a lot to do with the lack of experience.

“As young as we are, it plays into it,” Stramp said. “I hope as we do get older and more experienced, we’ll learn from this.

“This is by far the youngest team I’ve ever had,” Stramp added, saying that Keller (19-12) has played with four sophomores and a freshman with no varsity innings back from a year ago, including on the mound.

“We did really well with a young team and made the playoffs,” Stramp added.

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