The Maypearl Panther baseball team opened the 2008 season with a home game against Class 3A Kemp and came away with an 8-3 win over the visiting Yellowjackets.
Maypearl welcomed back former head coach Glen Tennison who was at the helm of the program in 2002 when he took a really young Panther team deep into the playoffs. In that year, just his fifth as a head coach, Tennison got win No. 100 Ė his first four seasons were spent guiding the Kaufman Lions. Because of family opportunities Tennison left coaching and was sorely missed by the Panther faithful. His return to Maypearl has generated optimism and excitement.
After a shaky start the Panthers settled into a solid effort behind the pitching of sophomore Matt Antwine who went five innings. Senior reliever Simon Beam came on to finish the game.
Early jitters were evident as Kempís first two hitters reached safely on Panther errors. But, with one out and runners on the corners Antwine struck out the final two batters on just eight pitches.
A pitcherís duel ensued as Kemp recorded a solo single in the top of the second. Antwine then recorded a strikeout, threw out a batter at first on a really good play and then enticed an easy fly ball to third sacker Logan Bell to end the Jacketí threat.
Maypearl opened the flood gates in the bottom of the third. Bell led off, reaching on an error. Antwine laced a single to left field to drive Bell home for the seasonís first run. Then with the bases loaded Beam unloaded a 2-RBI double to increase the lead to 3-0. But the carnage was not over. Dan Antwine drew a walk and with one out Michael Bosch lined a 2-RBI double to centerfield and when the inning was over Maypearl led 5-0.
Catcher Dan Antwine made an outstanding play when he made a diving catch of a popup down the first base line. Brother Matt then struck out the side to end the Kemp half of the fourth.
The defensive gem of the game came in the top of the fifth when Maypearl centerfielder Simon Beam made a long run and a diving catch to rob the Kemp lead-off hitter of a double.
Leading 5-0 Maypearl sent Garrett Mathers to the plate to lead off the bottom of the fifth. He singled to right and Bosch doubled to left with Mathers holding at third. Shortstop Nick Sheffield laced a two run single to give the Panthers a 7-0 lead going into the sixth frame.
Three singles and a couple of walks led to three Kemp runs in the sixth, but Beam settled to strike out two and get a ground ball out to end the Yellowjacket scoring.
The final score of the game came in the bottom half of the sixth. Beam beat out an infield single. Dan Antwine moved him along with a single to left center. With two outs, RBI leader Bosch hit a double to score Beam and post the final 8-3 score.
Beam closed out the game with a strikeout of the first Kemp batter. A hit batsman gave Kemp a base runner and a glimmer of hope. But a ground ball to short was scooped up by Matt Antwine, who made the flip to Andy Pipes at second and the relay was made to a stretching Mathers at first to complete the 6-4-1 double play to end the game.
Bob Weatherford regularly contributes Maypearl sports articles to The Daily Light.