Panthers reach finals for seventh straight year

NORTH COLLINS – The Pine Valley Panthers are back in familiar territory.

For the seventh straight year, the Panthers are headed to the Section 6 Class D championship game after a 20-10 thumping of North Collins on Friday.

The Panthers got off to a hot start as they scored six runs – all with two outs. Tyler Swanson had a two-run double to highlight the inning.

With the score 7-4 after two innings, Pine Valley put the game away with a five-run frame – again, all with two outs.

“They were still in the game,” Pine Valley coach Chris Buczek said. “When we put that five-spot up, it helped fuel everything for us. It seemed a lot more out of reach for them. Once we got to 12, it was too much.”

The Panthers got timely hits throughout the game and benefitted from six Eagles errors.

Lucas Trombley led the offense with two hits with a double and Tyler Swanson had a double and triple en route to four RBIs. Talon Snyder had a strong performance at the plate as he reached base five times with two walks, two doubles and a single. He drove in two runs and scored three runs.

“I think the expectations after losing key pitchers last year wasn’t to get back to finals,” Buczek said. “For the people surrounding this team, the expectations were the same. These kids work hard enough to get here and they deserve it. With the guys we lost, it’s definitely an impressive run we put together. This one means a lot because going to North Collins is such a difficult place to play. It’s an advantage to play on a field they play on. To beat them on their field is a lot of work. They all had the mentality to go in with a win. It’s impressive to beat a team like that there.”