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My kind of game

I would have gladly paid to take in the game I covered Saturday morning in Morrison.

I felt almost as happy as this pack of Panthers after their victory over Morrison in Saturday's regional final. Not because I had a horse in the race. I just couldn't wait to write about the race.

Five total hits. Twelve total baserunners, just a shade less than one per half-inning.

Sound boring? Not for this guy. The Erie-Prophetstown Panthers' nail-biting 1-0 regional championship victory over Morrison at the Mustangs' sport complex was downright utopian, in my humble opinion.

I vividly remember two Brewers games from the 2002 season. In one, Hideo Nomo one-hit the Beermakers. In the other, Shawn Green racked up an MLB-record 19 bases, going 6-for-6 with four homers and seven RBIs.

Back then, in the MLB's fabled Steroid Era, the tagline "Chicks dig the long ball" was thrown around like syringes in the Oakland clubhouse.

Yes. Homers are fun. On any level. But I was more mesmerized by Nomo, doing something that - albeit amazing - has been done hundreds of times in the bigs than I was with Green putting up numbers that might never be touched.

As a fan, gimme the pitcher's duel. I love a game in which every play is so magnified, a victory hanging in the balance every time the pitcher releases the ball.

Kind of like Saturday in Morrison.

After the game, I chatted with Mustangs skipper Ben Sondgeroth about being on the wrong end of an instant classic. He talked about his pre-game chat with Panthers coach Jason Orman and how they both would be happy for the winner, as long as the game measured up to the expectations.

Boy, did it.

Kenneth Cole, the Panthers' hulking southpaw, worked like he had a flight to catch. Get ball. Get sign. Throw ball.

"It might seem boring. It might be boring for the fans," said first baseman Owen McConnell, who had the game's lone RBI and extra-base hit, "But when he's working fast like that, we're just rolling with it."

Perhaps the biggest cajones were shown by Mustangs lefty Bill Lee Greul, who struggled to find the strike zone early on. It cost him a run, but he would strike out 12, made far more impressive by the fact that he only worked six inning. He fanned nine of 12 at one point, which included five in a row in the middle innings.

Perhaps no one appreciated the southpaws' performances than Orman.

"I'm a former pitcher," he said, "so, yeah, that was my kind of game."

He's got another front-line pitcher in Ethan Howard, but top priority going forward would be figuring out another two-headed monster: Oregon's Matt Murray and Alex Cain.

The Hawks and Panthers will get together Wednesday in Byron with a trip to a secional final on the line. And I get to cover it. How spoiled am I?

So spoiled, I think I'll go ahead and pay admission. I guarantee, it'll be money well-spent.

Email SVM assistant sports editor Christopher Heimerman at cheimerman@saukvalley.com and follow @CHeimerman_SVM on Twitter.


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