Pine Crest Flexes Muscle In HSBN Game Of The Week Win
The Pine Crest Panthers did not like how their season ended in 2016. After suffering one of the most heartbreaking losses of last year’s playoffs, a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Somerset, the Panthers had all offseason to think of what could have been.
The player that loss sat with the most was ace Jordan Schulefand, who threw a complete game while picking up the gut-wrenching loss.
On Wednesday night, the Panthers and Schulefand showed why they think 2017 will have a different ending. Schulefand threw five strong innings, and the Panthers bats did the rest as they cruised to a 14-3 win over Coral Springs Charter in the HSBN Broward Game of the Week.
“Last year was a tough loss to take,” said Schulefand. “That may have been the best game I have ever thrown, and to lose left us with a bad feeling all year. Tonight, it was good to get back out there in district play and get the win.”
The game started out with Schulefand and Coral Springs Charter ace TJ Lopez both working out of jams and escaping big innings. Through two innings, Pine Crest held a slim 1-0 lead.
In the third, Pine Crest pushed across two more runs, with the big blow, an RBI triple, coming from Ryan Keenan. The Panthers center-fielder was in the middle of the Pine Crest rallies all night, finishing the game 5-for-5. He is one of the first players in Broward this season to rack up five hits in a game.
“It felt pretty good,” said Keenan. “I was seeing the ball real well, and our whole offense was clicking tonight. We had been struggling a bit last week, so it was nice to see the bats come alive.”
Those bats came alive in a big way in the fifth and sixth innings. The Panthers put up three in the fifth to extend their lead to 6-1. Matthew Fine had an RBI double in the inning to go along with Keenan’s third hit of the game.
In the fourth, Schulefand hit his second triple of the game, and that was followed by a two-run home run off the bat of Mike Rothenberg. That only started the frame for Pine Crest, as they added two additional runs. Jared deFaria and Keenan also had hits and runs in the inning. Suddenly, the Panthers had built a 10-1 lead.
Schulefand, who was set to go out for the sixth, saw his night on the mound come to an end when the game was put away.
“He didn’t have his best stuff,” said Pine Crest Manager Mike Green. “But, he still was spotting his fastball, and with someone as good as he is, when he hits his spots, he can be tough to hit.”
Schulefand finished the game with 10 strikeouts.
Offensively, Pine Crest showed the kind of potential the team can bring to the plate on a nightly basis. Six of the nine batters in the lineup had hits, and Jake Kessinger, one of the players without a hit on the night, reached base three times.
As for Coral Springs Charter, the game started out competitive, but fielding errors and untimely hitting put them in a hole. The Panthers stranded six runners in the first five innings against Schulefand.
“We had some chances,” said Manager Tom Magrann. “We were going against what could be the best pitcher in Broward, and we had some guys on base, but we couldn’t get that big hit at the right time. It’s been the story of our season so far, we play five good innings and then the wheels come off. We have to look to our seniors for leadership to get this thing turned around.”
Luckily for Charter, the season is young, as this was only both teams first district game.