Panthers’ Lashley flashes the leather

Palm Beach State second baseman Brett Lashley got to flash his glove over and over Sunday, thanks in part to a little help from his former high school teammate, pitcher Ryan Pistey.

Lashley had 10 assists and two putouts, and during one stretch from the second to fifth innings, he had a hand in eight of 10 outs during the Panthers’ 7-1 victory over Kaskaskia (Ill.) College.

“I don’t have my stat book with me, but I’m going to guarantee you Pistey averages about 16 ground balls a game,” said Lashley, who went to Park Vista High School in Florida with Pistey. “So, when he’s on the bump, you’ve got to know: Hey, you’re getting some ground balls.”

The reason they all seemed to be going to the right side of the infield was a product of Pistey’s location.

“He was hitting his spots on the outside corner, and all they could do was hit the ball hard to me,” Lashley said, “and I was just trying to make the plays behind him.”

Pistey said his familiarity with Lashley helps his confidence.

“We have that (high school) bond, and I always know he’s back there,” Pistey said.

Lashley’s glove work is old hat to the Panthers.

“He’s a kid that has a lot of range, he’s got good hands, good body control, and he was a big reason we won this game today,” Palm Beach coach Kyle Forbes said.

Lashley did make an error on a grounder that hit the area of the infield that gets a little cut up in the base path between first and second.

“It just hit in a bad area,” he said. “I was waiting for that ball to hop over my head. It just never did. It hit me in the shin. Nothing I can do about that.”

Bonella Scholarship

When longtime JUCO umpire and host Jim Bonella passed away, his family asked for donations in lieu of flowers to establish a scholarship fund for the tournament. Sunday night, the first Jim Bonella Scholarships were awarded to the three daughters of Greg Assenmacher. The Grand Junction Police Department commander, who died in January, was the police department’s liaison to the JUCO Committee.

Sunday was Law Enforcement and First Responders Night.

Relax, bullpen, I’ve got this

Just like Pistey says the Panthers can rely on Lashley, Lashley says Palm Beach can count on Pistey.

Of Pistey’s complete-game victory over Kaskaskia, Lashley said, “It was huge, huge. That guy’s a workhorse over there. He just eats up innings.”

Going the distance also helps Palm Beach’s pitching situation as the Panthers must win two more elimination games before earning a day off, and Palm Beach threw four pitchers in Saturday’s first-round loss.

“I thought after yesterday, having to use our pen, I thought I’d give them a day off, a little help and rest for tomorrow’s game,” Pistey said.

Figuring out this JUCO thing

Pistey said he had to adjust to the Colorado climate in the first inning before he got going. For that matter, Forbes said, his whole team seemed to make an adjustment from Day 1 to Day 2.

“This is the first time we’ve been here, and I thought Central Alabama played extremely well yesterday, but I think it’s an adjustment, you know, first time we’ve been in this type of atmosphere,” Forbes said. “I thought that our team was more comfortable today, they were more relaxed, and they played well. So, I’m hoping we can keep it going.”

Really Easy adjustment

Palm Beach State’s J.D. Underwood went from being a starting pitcher Saturday to a designated hitter Sunday, and he delivered two hits, including a solo home run, and four RBI.

The transition obviously isn’t difficult. After all, he is the Panthers’ leading hitter.

“It was definitely a different mentality coming in today as a hitter compared to a pitcher yesterday,” Underwood said. “But at the end of the day, we all have the same mentality, and that’s win. That’s all there is. It’s really all the same to me.

“You know, in a big-game atmosphere, there are thousands of people here, but it’s still just baseball to me no matter what position I’m playing. You just try and zone everything out. It’s the same field we’ve been playing since we were however old.”

No quit in the Senators

After hanging with top-ranked Spartanburg (S.C.) Methodist College until the Pioneers’ last outburst of runs finally put the Senators away Saturday, Walters State (Tenn.) Community College repeatedly responded to Navarro (Texas) College on Sunday before bowing 7-5 in 10 innings in an elimination game.

The Senators came back to tie the game 1-1, 2-2, 3-3 and 5-5.

The suggestion that his team is a group of battlers led Walters State coach Ken Campbell to say, “That’s true. We had a bunch of kids that worked hard and played hard until the last out, and that’s what we did down here.”

D-I football gives way to JUCO baseball

North Carolina State University’s football stadium, Carter-Finely Stadium, holds more than twice the population of Morristown, Tenn., home of Walters State. It was a welcome destination for former North Carolina State quarterback Tyler Brosius.

After being denied two-sport eligibility at N.C. State, and roster prospects looking dim with Wolfpack football, Brosius found Walters State. It was somewhere to play baseball, his “first love” and to stay out of trouble.

“It’s really too small to have any kind of trouble,” Brosius said. “All the guys have been great here, and all there is to really do is play ball and hang out with my teammates.”

Brosius ended his career with the Senators in 7-5 loss against Navarro (Texas), pitching 3 2/3 innings of relief, scoreless through the first three. He gave up three hits and two runs with two walks and two strikeouts.

Hoping Trip 2 is next year

Kaskaskia, making its first World Series appearance, was the first team to exit the double-elimination tournament, but Blue Devils coach Mitch Koester said the experience was still worth it.

“To be able to come out and play at this type of level, this high of level, is great,” Koester said. “Obviously it didn’t happen the way we expected it to or wanted it to this week, but our kids battled hard.

“Obviously we can compete at the regional and district level where we’re at, but at the national level we have to get better. You know, our freshmen, we have 20 of them, and they’re talented. We’ve got to come back and want to play at a high level and hopefully make that next step.”

Attendance

Attendance for Sunday’s first game, Game 5, was 5,745 fans. Game 6 drew 5,376 fans, and the night game brought in 7,898 for a Sunday total of 19,019.

Attendance through two days of the World Series is 42,688.


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