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Tate’s No-No Snaps Pine Crest’s 11-Game Skid

Stephen Tate throws his first no-hitter against Highlands Christian.

The Pine Crest Panthers (5-12-1) snapped an 11-game winless streak Tuesday night with a 17-1 victory over the Highlands Christian Knights (1-8).

Stephen Tate took a perfect game into the fourth inning, but some late command issues led to three walks and an unearned run for Highlands late in the game. Tate preserved the no-hitter and the game ended early due to the run rule.

“I was disappointed after the walk,” Tate said. “But, you know, it’s not that bad. I still threw a no-no. I hope to have many to come, but I still have to keep working.”

Panthers manager Brett Scarberry wasn’t available for Tuesday’s matchup, but assistant coach Nick Karpf was more than complimentary of his starter’s performance.

“He’s our bulldog,” he said. “He started the season as our No. 2 and had some rough outings. In his defense, we’ve had to throw him against some top teams. He’s had his ups and downs but his last two or three outings have been very solid. His biggest thing has been walks—as you saw late in this game—but when he gets ahead of hitters and lets the defense work, his game is a lot different.”

Jordan Fiedel drives in a run with a sacrifice fly in the first inning for Pine Crest.

Karpf called the victory “a huge pick-me-up” for his club after a stretch that saw the team lose 10 games and tie another. Confidence has waned in the Pine Crest dugout over the challenging run, but Karpf thinks that this win is the one that will put the Panthers back on track with districts looming. Senior captain Jordan Fiedel, who scored three runs and drove in two more, agreed with his coach’s assessment.

“This (win) is absolutely huge for us,” Fiedel said. “I think there was kind of a snowball effect in that 11-game skid and this is a nice little rebound from that, especially with districts coming up.”

The Panthers wrap up the season with a pair of home games. The first is against Calvary Christian Academy (7-11) on Wednesday, then comes a rematch with Highlands Christian next Thursday, April 28.

With only nine players available for the game, Highlands turned to Tyson Jowers for the start. The freshman struggled to find command early, allowing each of the first four batters to reach on a combination of hits, walks and hit batters. His night came to an end after just 2/3 innings with Pine Crest up 4-0.

Sage Chartier took over and finished the first inning unscathed, but the Panthers would get to him in each of the next three innings. Right fielder Nate Sorrentino led the way with three hits and three RBIs, including an RBI double in the second to score Fiedel.

Sage Chartier took over Tyson Jowers on the mound in the first inning with two out and worked the rest of the night.

It’s been a tough season for the Knights. After a season-opening win over Berean Christian (1-11), Highlands has dropped seven of eight games to the run rule. Manager Bruce Charlebois finds himself without any true experience on the squad and is looking to establish a foundation to build on in the years to come. With no juniors or seniors on the team, the Knights will have plenty of time to

“They’ve got to work harder and take more advantage of the facility we have,” Charlebois said. “They have to be more passionate about what they’re doing. We’ve got a six-pack of guys that we can build on for next year. Rebuilding, I guess.”

The Knights’ regular season concludes in a week in the aforementioned rematch between these two ball clubs. Pine Crest’s aggressive base-running and dominant win won’t soon be forgotten, either; Highlands hopes to play spoiler in the season finale.

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