SIOUX CITY — The Kingsley-Pierson High School baseball team left Sioux City West with a sour taste in its mouth.
It didn’t put on a good showing on Tuesday in a 5-0 loss to Tri-Center, and it knows it’s better than that.
The Panthers made it to the 2020 state tournament, and even pulled off an upset in the state quarterfinals.
Kingsley-Pierson is going to have to wait another year to make it to state.
“Next year, we don’t leave any doubt when we get back here,” Panthers coach Taylor Doeschot said. “We have a lot of room to grow. We have a lot of sophomores and juniors playing. I can’t wait to see that next step.”
Tri-Center took advantage of some Kingsley-Pierson mistakes, and clinched a spot to the Class 1A state baseball tournament next week in Carroll.
With the loss, Kingsley-Pierson ended its season with a 28-4 record.
The first two innings were scoreless, but the Trojans were able to break the ice with three runs.
With one out, Michael Turner reached base on a throwing error by K-P third baseman Conner Beelner.
The Trojans reeled off three straight run-producing hits.
Mason Rohatsch had an RBI single, Trent Kozeal sent a fly ball to the centerfield wall for a triple then Brett McGee hit a line drive to left field.
After those three hits, the Trojans led 3-0.
The Panthers had two baserunners in the fourth inning, and they both reached scoring position. Damon Schmid hit a one-out single, then Jackson Howe followed suit.
Schmid was on third and Howe advanced to second on the throw to second, but Leyton Nelson was able to escape the jam.
Tri-Center scored its last two runs during the fifth inning. Kozeal scored on a passed ball, then Nelson helped out his own cause with a squeeze-play RBI single.
“We made it harder than what it was,” Doeschot said. “I preach to these guys to take care of the little things and make the play in front of you, and tonight, we made it harder than what it was. For the younger guys, the game maybe got too big for them and lost focus. They’re going ot be hungry to get back here next year.”
The Panthers tried to get rallies going in the sixth and seventh innings down five runs.
Emerson Pratt led off the sixth by reaching on an error made by T-C right fielder Michael Turner.
Nelson retired the next three batters to keep the Panthers off the scoreboard again.
Then, during the seventh inning, senior Boe Harvey led off the inning by getting hit by a pitch.
Tyler Orzechowski came in to run for Harvey. He moved up to second on an Evan Neumann single, then was 90 feet away from scoring after Beelner hit a single into center field.
With the bases loaded, however, Nelson forced a popout and the Trojans quickly formed a dogpile halfway up the first-base line.
Tri-Center held K-P to four hits, all singles.
“Nelson was around the zone all night, and we couldn’t figure him out,” Doeschot said. “Our guys are usually pretty patient, and those strikeouts looking, that’s unusually uncharacteristic for us. That hurt us bad.”