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Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016

Squirrels' bats go quiet at Regional

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Charleston Squirrel Zach Rowland is congratulated by coach Matt Bucher after scoring a run earlier this season. Rowland completed his eligibility with the Squirrels at the Midwest Plains Regional this past weekend. David Jenkins, Staff
WELLINGTON, KAN -- Charleston's season came to an end Sunday afternoon with two-straight losses eliminating the Fighting Squirrels from the Midwest Plains Senior Babe Ruth Regional Tournament.

"We just didn't play real well," Charleston coach Michael Minner said. "We got out there and we couldn't buy a hit. I think in the last two games we left 18 runners on base in the two games combined."

After a second place finish the prior weekend in the MIssouri Senior Babe Ruth State Tournament, the Squirrels opened up Regionals with a solid win over Independence, Kan., on Friday.

Collecting the win, Sam Johnson went 5 1/3 innings on the mound as the Squirrels came away with the 6-4 decision.

Things didn't go as well in their second day of the tournament, however, as Charleston fell 10-3 to Minnesota leaving them one loss away from elimination.

"They swung the bats well," Minner said. "We had a few defensive blunders early and gave up a grand slam when the guy should have never been at the plate.

"We dug ourselves a hole and had to play from behind."

Sunday brought the final nail in the coffin for Charleston's season, with the Squirrels falling 8-2 to Iowa for their second loss in the double-elimination tournament.

While Minner said he felt his squad was as on the same level as any of the other teams in the tournament, things just didn't click when they needed to.

"We had bases loaded three or four or five times," he said. "We just couldn't get the hit. Sometimes that happens where we pick a bad weekend to not play real well.

"We played pretty good defense all weekend, but other than that, all the things that we expect, just really didn't go our way."

Charleston finishes the year with a 23-18 overall record. The Squirrels will be assured a spot in next year's tournament as they will host Regionals with the host team being granted a automatic bid.

One player who won't be there, however, is Charleston catcher Zach Rowland who after being a rock on both the Squirrels and Minner's high school Bluejays squad is out of eligibility.

"This year you say bye to a Zach Rowland whose been by starting catcher for four years," Minner said. "He plays his final innings and things are put in reality for you out there. He's been to four straight Regionals and that's something that, you never know, a Squirrel may never do again.

"He's been a big part of what we do. Those kind of kids they touch your heart in a special way."