For six innings of Saturday night’s Scottsbluff Screenprinting Wood Bat Tournament game against the Buckley Bombers, Paul Panduro was literally unhittable on the mound for the WESTCO Zephyrs senior legion baseball game.
Only a severe thunderstorm that dumped buckets of rain on Cleveland Field in the bottom of the sixth inning was able to slow down Panduro, who rang up 13 strikeouts and allowed no hits in one of his best starts of the season.
The game, which the Zephyrs lead 3-1, is scheduled to be resumed with two outs in the bottom of the sixth on Sunday morning at around 11 a.m. following the 9 a.m. contest between Sidney and Fort Morgan, Colorado. The WESTCO-Buckley winner will advance into the championship game against the Casper Crush, which is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.
The only things that kept Panduro from enjoying an even sparkling pitching performance was three walks. The rest of the time he was overpowering.
“Man he was dominant,” WESTCO head coach Jeremiah Luber said of Panduro. “To go through six full innings without giving up a hit against a team like Buckley that can really swing the bat, that was really impressive for Paul.”
Supplying solid play behind Panduro was the WESTCO defense. The Zephyrs made a number of tough plays look routine throughout the contest.
“We played good defense behind him and that was very key,” Luber said. “We didn’t make any mistakes on any tough plays either.”
Following three and a half scoreless innings, WESTCO finally broke on top with a run in the bottom of the fourth. Panduro led off with a single and moved into scoring position at second base on a passed ball. He then raced around to the plate on a crushing double by Harold Baez.
Baez added the second run of the frame after scoring on groundout. On the play, courtesy runner Jarrett Richter dug for third from first and forced an errant throw. Richter then sprang to his feet and scored the Zephyrs’ third run.
Buckley managed to get on the scoreboard with a run in the top of the fifth.
Baez collected two hits to lead the Zephyrs offensively. Panduro and Porter Robbins also finished with a hit.
Luber said the Zephyrs will go to the bullpen to try and finish out the victory Sunday morning.
“We have a good idea of a couple guys,” he said. “It will be kind of a tough spot coming into to finish it, so they will have to come in and throw strikes right away.”
In Saturday’s other tournament games, Casper beat Fort Morgan 8-2 and then turned around to earn a 12-0 win over the Rapid City Shooters to book a spot in the final. Buckley edged Fort Morgan 7-6 and Rapid City posted a 12-1 win over Sidney.