Clutch hits propel boys

Bryan Veginski
Comeback win: Dustin Grebner, a junior, bats for the Washington baseball team May 12 in the fourth inning. The Panthers came from behind twice to defeat visiting Morton, 7-6. Washington travels to East Peoria today. A win over the eighth-place Raiders would assure the Panthers of no worse than a share of the Mid-Illini Conference championship.

Washington completed its non-conference series with Woodruff May 6 with a 6-5 road victory.

The Panthers earlier defeated the Warriors April 15, 11-1, after an April 12 doubleheader was rained out.

This time, Washington snapped a seventh-inning tie with a run to break a three-game losing streak.

Cody Maddock and Ben Worner both were 2-for-3 and Hayden Shaver drove in

two runs with a double.

The Panthers also received RBI from Mike Schwenk, Alex Wilson, Marshall Escue and Josh Hofer.

Ryan Harkins went the distance for the win. He did not walk a batter and struck out seven.

WCHS 6, Pekin 0: The Panthers stymied the Dragons May 7.

Austin Fisher returned to the mound and baffled Pekin. He fanned two and walked one for the Mid-Illini Conference win.

Escue had a huge day on the road with a double, an RBI and four of Washington’s 13 hits.

Schwenk went 3-for-4 with a two-base hit and knocked in two for the guests, who struck for three runs in the second inning.

Dustin Grebner had two hits and an RBI, and Fisher and Robert Hodges drove in runs as well.

Wilson threw the final frame to complete the Panthers’ second straight season sweep of the Dragons.

Richmond-Burton 7, WCHS 6: The Panthers lost to the visitors May 9 after a seventh inning filled with runs.

The Rockets scored three times in their final at-bat to break loose from a 4-4 deadlock before Washington countered with two in the bottom of the seventh.

Grebner was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI. Wilson tripled and drove in a run.

Shaver and Escue had two RBI apiece for the Panthers, who plated three runs in the first frame.

Maddock (1-3), who entered in the fourth, took the loss in relief of starter Ben Worner.

WCHS10-5, Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin 0-3: The Panthers cruised past the Cyclones in a May 10 twin bill.

The first game lasted just five innings as Washington jumped on SH-G for five runs in the first.

Schwenk, Escue, Shaver and Wilson all knocked in two runs for the Panthers.

Grebner was 3-for-4, while Escue and David Dalfonso had two hits apiece.

Schwenk homered, Shaver tripled and Mike Zehr doubled. Dan O’Neill and Grebner also had RBI.

Escue (6-1) fired a two-hitter. He struck out three and walked three over five innings.

Wilson, who doubled, and Escue both were 2-for-3 with an RBI in the second game as the hosts scored all of their runs in the first three innings.

Hodges also drove in a run in the early deluge as the Panthers competed their 20th win of the season.

Harkins (3-1) walked two and struck out one before turning the ball over to Wilson in the sixth.

WCHS 7, Morton 6: Zehr got a gift May 12 any baseball player would enjoy.

On his birthday, Zehr, a junior, lined a two-run double to left field in the seventh inning to score the winning runs for Washington (21-11, 10-3).

“He was so aggressive in the box,” said WCHS head coach Kevin Brown of Zehr, who has demonstrated his hitting ability.

The victory kept the Panthers tied atop the league standings with Limestone and eliminated the Potters from title consideration.

Washington plays at eighth-place East Peoria today, while the Rockets travel to co-sixth place Dunlap.

Morton, which won the teams’ first meeting, scored four runs in the first three frames.

Brown said the Potters were hitting every mistake starter Austin Fisher made.

“They swung the bats well early,” Brown said of the guests, who totaled 10 hits, four of which went for extra bases.

Fisher settled down after that, going 5 2/3 innings and striking out seven with no walks.

The Panthers got within 4-2 in the third inning on Schwenk’s RBI single to left.

The first two Washington batters were retired in the bottom of the sixth before five straight reached base, leading to three runs.

Grebner cracked a two-run double over the left fielder’s head to tie it, 4-4.

The next batter, Wilson, drove a pitch into center for the go-ahead run.

Morton went in front again in the seventh with back-to-back two-out RBI hits from starting pitcher Ryan Meehan and Alex Burritt.

The Panthers turned defeat into victory when Zehr plated two runs after walks to Schwenk and Fisher and a successful Hodges sacrifice.

Worner (7-1), who followed Wilson to the hill, got the final out of the seventh for the win.

Shaver was 2-for-3 and Fisher supplied a second-inning double.

Washington made a lot of mistakes early and Brown said Morton gave some of those back in the late innings.

The Panthers’ depleted pitching staff is regaining strength just in time for the second season.