MANLIUS — One swing was all it took to smash the postseason dreams of the Princeton Tigers — one swing.
Erie/Prophetstown’s Jordan Chandler unloaded on a three-run home run in the top of the sixth to send the Panthers past Princeton 3-2 in Class 2A regional semifinal play at Bureau Valley Thursday.
“It was the wrong spot at the wrong time and you get a three-run dinger out of it. That’s what it came down to. Other than that, it was a solid baseball game all the way around,” PHS coach Tim Taylor said.
With the season-ending defeat, Taylor says farewell to a senior class of players he’s spent a lot of baseball with, including his son, Isaiah, Caleb Dickens, J.J. Vaccaro, Logan Wilde and Tyler Marvin.
“Some of those guys I’ve had since they were 5 years old,” Taylor said. “You watch them grow up, you watch them love the game and want to win the game. You see their heart and soul go into it, and all the practice hours they put into it and clinics they’ve gone and you want the to finish strong. And they finished strong, and that’s best thing you can ask for anybody.
“Every chance they had they made their plays. They took good at-bats, and it didn’t fall our way.”
The Tigers (14-16) struck first with a run in the fourth. Jett Wedekind led off with a walk and took second on a groundout by Dickens. Wilde drew another free pass before Marvin put a charge into one, sending a blast to the left field fence. Wedekind beat the throw home, but the Panthers cut down Wilde at third on the back of the play, Marvin settling for a single.
Isaac Salazar singled to lead off the fifth and stole second. He took third on Isaiah Taylor’s sac bunt before scoring on Jake Reinhardt’s sac fly to center to put the Tigers ahead 2-0.
The Panthers put their first two runners on base in the sixth with a walk and an error before Chandler homered off Tiger starter Isaiah Taylor.
The E/P duo of starter Ethan Howard and reliever Kenneth Cole held the Tigers’ offense in check with just four hits, two by Isaiah Taylor.
“Erie played a good game. We both dodged some bullets, our bullets, their bullets. One pitch, one hit, won the game,” Tim Taylor said.
E/P will face defending regional champion St. Bede in Saturday’s title game at 10 a.m.
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