Panthers remain undefeated heading into Thursday’s showdown with Eastside

PECI's Dakin Jones is one of several young standouts for the Panthers baseball team this season. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)

KACEY COCKLIN

PECI REPORTER

A pair enormous wins over the likes of Bayside Secondary and St.Theresa’s left the PECI Panthers baseball club in high spirits heading into their final regular season game.

The Panthers defeated the Bayside Red Devils by a score of 11-5 Thursday afternoon at Rotary Park in Belleville. The Panthers followed that win with an 8-0 shut out of the St.Theresa Titans on Monday in Melrose. The performance was somewhat unexpected coming out of a younger, inexperienced Panthers squad but PECI coach Matt Ronan thought the team did what they were expected to do, win.

Aiden Reddick. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)

“It was a very tough game for our guys,” Ronan said of PECI’s most recent victory. “We came into both games knowing they would be more difficult than the wins over Nicholson and Centre Hastings but we played well and really took control out there.”

A trio of Panther pitchers came up large for the team in their shutout victory over the Titans. Senior pitcher Aiden Reddick started the game and had 11 strikeouts over 4 intense, yet immaculate scoreless innings. Fellow hurler Ben Smith came in the game next and pitched a solid inning of relief to keep the Titans bats at bay. Finally, to close out the game, Jack Martin came in and breezed through the last two innings with excellent control of his breaking balls coupled with an excellent fastball. Ronan was impressed with his pitchers and had this to say following the team’s win “Our pitchers were great tonight, it was a really strong effort by our staff and it made our team feel at ease when hitting, or on defense.”

Some young players in the lineup broke through to lengthen the Panther lineup. Sophomore Dakin Jones came through with clutch hits and clutch plays for the Panthers in both their wins. Jones had a huge at bat against St.Theresa’s early in the game which drove in a run and sparked the team’s offense. 

Another sophomore having a breakthrough for the team is Kayden Insley. Insley pitched a very solid, clean inning for the Panthers against Bayside Thursday and on Tuesday, the rookie had some lengthy at bats, fouling off pitches which elevated pitch counts and led to the pitcher wearing down, helping the Panthers win the game. 

“Dake is a great young athlete, he really came up big for us and helped us win against St.Theresa’s, ” Ronan said. “Kayden is young and still developing his game to the fullest, he has made massive strides to improve this year and it is certainly paying off.”

Another young standout that’s performing to a very high standard is freshman Mitch Sills. The Wellington native tossed a nice inning of relief to close out the Panthers win against the Red Devils. At the dish, Sills had a couple of hits and came in to score three times in the Panthers win against the Titans.

Freshman Mitch Sills has been contributing the to the success of the PECI Panthers baseball team in a number of ways this season. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)

“Sillsy is such a good player and does everything for us, he sees the game in a unique way and it certainly pays off when we need it the most.”

PECI faces their toughest challenge of the season in their last game on Thursday. The Panthers are set to go on the prowl and challenge the undefeated Eastside Ravens in Melrose May 12 at 4:00 p.m. 

With two undefeated seasons on the line, it should make for a very high leverage, and intense battle of two of the best teams the Bay Of Quinte region has to offer. 

“It should be a challenging game against Eastside however it’s nothing we can’t handle,” Ronan commented. “We are a good team with a lot of depth and it’s going be all hands on deck to get a win against the Ravens.”

The Panthers look forward to the Bay Of Quinte tournament next week which will be held in either Wellington or Melrose depending on who wins Thursday. A birth in the Central Ontario and All Ontario tournaments hang in the balance.

“Our club doesn’t think too much about these kinda things, we take it day by day and work hard each day to continue improving and getting better, the results are coming and I’m sure they will continue to come if we work hard and keep trending in the right direction.”