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Newman Catholic vs. Pekin

July 26, 2019

The Pekin Panthers’ first state tournament appearance came to end in the 1A class quarterfinals Friday at Principal Park, but not before they gave the top-ranked and two-time defending state champion Newman Catholic Knights a scare before falling 8-7. 

The combination of two balks by Pekin pitcher Brady Latcham, savvy baserunning, and RBIs by Kyle Armour, Evan Paulus, Jack McGuire and Doug Taylor helped give the Knights a 7-0 lead by the end of the third. 

Down 7-0 and Knights pitcher Evan Paulus having struck out seven Panthers by the end of the third, the game appeared to be getting out of reach for Pekin. However, they responded by scoring three runs in the fourth with RBIs coming from Tanner Bainbridge, Quinn Ledger and Kennan Winn cutting the Newman lead to 7-3.

Going in the top of the seventh, being down 8-4, down to their last out, and with the bases loaded, Pekin’s Winn launched a three-run double, cutting the Knights’ lead to 8-7. However the Panthers’ luck would come up just short when relief pitcher Josh Fitzgerald struck out Tugg Hill for the final out leaving Winn stranded on second. 

Newman Catholic starter Paulus went 6.2 innings and struck out 11. It was an all-around balanced attack for the Knights with five of their players reaching base at least twice. 

The eighth-seeded Panthers’ attack was led by Bainbridge, Ledger and Winn who batted in all seven of their runs. 

The Knights will advance to the semifinals for the 12th straight time and will face off against Don Bosco. Pekin ends at 17-9.