Titans weather Storm, end Panthers season

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Of course it would end this way.

The Raymore-Peculiar Panthers have had their fair share of close games where they came out on the short end. Their final game of the season was no exception, as the Lee’s Summit West Titans gave Ray-Pec all they could handle in the second round of districts Monday night.

Junior Storm Rynard took the mound for the Panthers, who played as visitors. West put junior Alex Lange on the bump and he kicked off the game with a quick top-half of the first. Keeping a quick pace between each pitch, Lange struck out Rynard and Turner Wehmeyer looking before getting Austyn Cochran to ground out.

Rynard kept a slower tempo than his counterpart throughout but wouldn’t give up a run until the sixth inning.

At the start of the second, Lange was still in control, getting Jacob and Joshua Scribner out on just a few pitches. Jordan VanTrump started a two-out rally, however, by lining a single into center field on a full count. Alex Hunt and Cort Lesmeister both followed with walks and VanTrump was able to score on a wild pitch. That’s all the Panthers would get in the inning and they would head into the bottom half of the second with a 1-0 lead.

Over the next three innings, Rynard looked very comfortable on the mound. Over the course of those innings, he gave up just two hits while striking out five.

Ray-Pec’s Wehmeyer hit a one-out double in the third, but his team couldn’t drive him in. Their next run would come in the top of the fourth off a solo home run by VanTrump, who bats left and pulled the ball into right-center field. VanTrump hustled all the way around the bases before jumping into the group of his teammates waiting for him outside of the dugout.

In the fifth inning, Lange regained his focus and got three straight groundouts from the Panther batters.

In the Titans’ half of the fifth, Rynard started to leak oil. After getting a pair of outs, West managed a single and a walk to put two men on with two out. Rynard was able to work out of the jam, but he was showing signs of struggle.

The Panthers got a man to second in the sixth, but were unable to drive in the precious insurance run heading into the “last” inning of the game. The stranded runner would prove to be crucial as Lee’s Summit West would tie the game minutes later.

Junior Monte Harrison started the bottom of the sixth by singling the first pitch he saw into left field. A possible double-play ball off the bat of the next player got no outs and West was set with runners on first and second. A passed ball moved both men into scoring position and another passed ball would score Harrison. Senior Nathan Fry bunted the next run in before Rynard closed the door with the score even at two runs apiece.

Ray-Pec’s seventh inning started out with plenty of excitement. Alex Hunt, the leadoff batter, reached first on an error and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Cort Lesmeister. A wild pitch moved Hunt to third with only one out, but a strikeout and a groundout would prevent Hunt from scoring.

Storm Rynard tossed an eleven-pitch seventh, putting him at 104 pitches total. Junior Jake Lalumondier, the new pitcher for West in the eighth, made just as quick work of the Panthers, and the game was on the line in the bottom half of the inning. Surprisingly, Rynard came out to pitch still late in the game, but was pulled after three pitches got him an out and a double. Lesmeister filled in for the starter and got a fly out and a strikeout to end the inning.

Except for an amazing snag in left field by the Panthers’ Wehmeyer, the ninth inning was fairly uneventful.

Raymore-Peculiar were shutout once again in the tenth and Lesmeister started the bottom half with a strikeout. The next batter, the Titans’ Harrison, would change the complexion of the game with a triple into right-center field. Harrison has good power and a lot of speed to burn on the base paths. The next batter, Lalumondier, laid down the squeeze bunt and Harrison flew into home, scoring the game-winning and game-ending run.

The Panthers had similar results against the Titans earlier in the year– losing 2-1 in twelve innings. Ray-Pec finishes the season 9-12 and they lost five of their games by a single run.

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