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Panthers put on brink after playoff opening loss

The Kitchener Panthers will play with their season on the line in Brantford Saturday
Panthers 2019 Christian Hauck
FILE PHOTO. Kitchener Panthers pitcher Christian Hauck in action at Jack Couch Park. Mark Pare/KitchenerToday

They ran out of innings, and now the Kitchener Panthers are running out of time.

Kitchener dropped a 10-8 decision in Game 1 of their best-of-three playoff series with the Brantford Red Sox Thursday night at Jack Couch Park.

It was a back-and-forth affair, but Brantford never trailed in the game as Kitchener kept answering deficits.

"A couple spins on us cost us a couple runs, and you just can't keep battling from behind," said Panthers manager Don Menard, "Eventually, you're going to run out of outs."

Both starters gave up some runs, but were dealing in a big way.

Christian Hauck struck out eight in five and a third innings of work, but gave up seven runs (five earned) on seven hits.  His counterpart Mike Mueller nabbed seven strikeouts in five plus innings for Brantford, while also giving up seven runs (five earned).

But it was the miscues that were focused in on by Menard, noting there's no room for error.

"We can't give up the walk.  You give up the walk, and then they get a base hit...then you're done," Menard said.

"Base runners kill you, especially here.  He gave up the one home run but we have to get the people out."

Brantford took the early 2-0 lead, and the teams were deadlocked at three after four innings.

The two teams traded a run in the fifth, and three runs in the sixth, before the Red Sox took the lead for good with another three runs in the seventh.

Keegan Marsden led the way in the loss with three RBI for the Panthers, while going two-for-two with three walks.

Robbie Gauthier went three-for-five for the Red Sox, and Liam Sutherland was two-for-four and drove in two runs.

Also of note, Sutherland gave Brantford a lead by stealing home in the fifth inning.

"I give credit to Brantford," Menard said, "We beat them (in all five games) in the regular season, but like I've told you earlier, this ain't the regular season anymore."

Kitchener faces elimination in the second game Saturday night in Brantford Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

If a third game is needed, the two teams will meet at Jack Couch Park at 2:00 p.m. Sunday afternoon.


Mark Pare

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