ATLANTA — As usual, the Pinecrest baseball team's offense showed up in Thursday's state quarterfinal game at Holy Innocents'. It came a bit late, as the Paladins scored three runs in the sixth and three more in the seventh after one early on in the second, but it was there.
Those final three were steeped with regret, though. They were far from enough to offset the nine that the Bears had put up in the top of the seventh, just after Pinecrest had put the margin at 5-4 in the bottom of the sixth. The Paladins wound up losing 14-7, ending their season with a final record of 22-16.
"It's easy to look back on the season and just be happy, because it's the best season we've ever had, in our history," Pinecrest head coach Ryan Weingart said. "You can nitpick things all day about what went wrong today, but it's a shame that a couple errors here and there had to be a deciding factor."
After Caleb Bohn and Brooks Binkley shared the first six innings on the mound, Will Patota came in for the seventh and retired the first batter on a fly ball to right. An error on a grounder to second let the next one reach, though, and a walk put two men on. Those two runners advanced on a wild pitch, and when Freddie Reams hit a fly ball at center fielder Patrick Sullivan, Sullivan couldn't squeeze it, allowing a run to score.
Caleb Ketchup grounded out to give the Bears two outs, but the next eight batter would reach, and Holy Innocents' would up scoring nine runs in the frame.
Pinecrest couldn't respond to that magnitude, but the Paladins didn't vanish, either.
"There was always hope," Weingart said. "They put up nine or ten runs, or whatever it was, and why can't we? It's never over until it's over."
But the Paladins, who cleared out of the field just in time to beat an incoming rainstorm that had kicked up vicious winds during the later innings, did have to confront the fact that the deepest postseason run in program history was done.
"I still get to play at the next level, thankfully," said senior Ben Gobbel, who signed to play at Belmont Abbey back in February. "But it was a good run with these guys. I'll miss it."