Buzzard lifts Panthers over Miners
Panther Valley’s Brad Buzzard unwinds with a pitch against Minersville. RON GOWER/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
With strong pitching and opportunistic hitting, Panther Valley advanced to the District 11 Class 2A semifinals with a 4-0 win over Minersville on Wednesday.
Brad Buzzard hurled 6 2/3 shutout innings for the Panthers and didn’t allow a hit until Paul Hertz’s two-out single in the fourth.
Buzzard was in total command most of the game, but one of the Miners’ few scoring threats came in the top of the first inning when their first two hitters reached base on an error and a walk. But Buzzard escaped the jam when Aaron Miller turned a double play.
“I felt a little panic after they had two on and no outs, “ said Buzzard. “I mean, it’s a playoff game. Then I settled in and really felt I got into my rhythm by the fourth inning.”
Mason Goida relieved Buzzard, who had to be removed in the seventh inning after reaching his pitch count limit, and got the game’s final out.
The Panthers (15-7) loaded the bases with no outs in the home half of the first on three consecutive walks, but managed just one run on a sacrifice fly by Miller.
“We have to cash in on an opportunity like we had in the first inning,” said Panthers coach Rich Evanko. “We won the inning, but we should have gotten more than one run.”
Buzzard and Minersville’s pitcher, Dominic Pizzico matched scoreboard zeroes for the next three innings. In the PV fifth, the Miners committed three errors, two on infield popups, contributing to three Panther runs. During the rally, Goida laced a single to right and Buzzard smacked an RBI double to the right-centerfield gap as the Panthers increased their lead to 4-0.
“Brad was terrific on the mound,” said Evanko. “His fastball has been clocked in the mid eighties and they were swinging late most of the game.”
The Miners managed just three hits off Buzzard, but with two outs and no one on in the seventh, Dominic Agnello and Gehrig Hossler both walked. But Goida induced a groundball out to end the game.
“It bothered me a lot that I couldn’t finish the game,” said Buzzard, who doesn’t have a complete game pitched all season.
PV catcher, Jake Taras had an infleld hit and a double to pace the Panther attack.
“The season’s on the line from here on in,” said Evanko. “We’re counting on our five seniors to lead our defense. We played pretty soundly today.
“The bottom line is the only thing that matters is at the end of the game we have one more run than the other team.”
WEB GEMS ... The game featured outstanding defensive plays by both teams’ centerfielders. The Miners’ Gehrig Hossler robbed Chuck Byers with a sliding catch in the second and PV’s Mark Kokinda returned the favor with a sliding catch against Josh Halye in the fourth.
HURRICANES ON DECK ... Panther Valley will meet Schuylkill Haven on Sunday at 4 p.m. at Pottsville in the District 11 2A semifinals.
Minersville 000 000 0 - 0 3 3
Panther Vy. 100 300 x - 4 5 1
Pizzico, Paukstis (6) and Hertz. Buzzard. Goida (7) and Taras. W - Buzzard. L - Pizzico.