WEIMAR, Texas -- The Burton Panther baseball team finally ran out of playoff magic Thursday, falling to the Shiner Comanches 11-0 in a game that saw Shiner pitcher Garet Pustka (10-2) strike out 11 Panthers and allow just two hits.
Burton right-hander Bradley Chovanec (9-4) had a rough outing against a potent Comanche lineup. In seven innings, he allowed seven earned runs on 12 hits and a walk. He struck out five.
"You play a game like this and you know the other team is going to be good, and Shiner just came out and hit everything that was pitched," Burton head coach Jason Hodde said. "If you threw it in, they hit it. If you threw it out, they hit it. If you threw the curveballs, they hit it. Chovanec perhaps wasn't his sharpest, but he still made some good pitches and they had some good hits."
The score was just 2-0 through four innings, but Shiner scored three runs apiece in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings to put the game away.
"Our inexperience showed at times, but I'm proud of my guys," Hodde said. "They fought all season long and they did what they were supposed to do. They just came up short tonight."
Shiner took a 2-0 lead in the first inning when center fielder Chris Baer doubled into the right field gap to start the game. Pustka then sent a sacrifice fly into right field. Panther right fielder Jesus Casas fell down as he caught the ball, and Baer scored from second on the play.
Comanche third baseman Russell Boothe then reached on an error and scored on an RBI single into left field by catcher Brady Strauss.
The Panthers missed a scoring opportunity in the third inning after Russell Roehling and John Mikowski walked and Ryan Nienstedt reached on an error. All three runners were left on base.
"We had some chances there early to get back into the game being down just 2-0," Hodde said. "When you have a young team you never know how it affects them. I think it might have had some effect, but I don't think a lot. You give a lot of credit to Shiner. They put us away. They're an older team that probably has a touch more experience."
Baer hit an RBI triple in the fifth to make it 3-0 before Pustka hit an RBI single to score him. Pustka later scored on an RBI single from first baseman Scott Shimek.
In the sixth inning, Shiner scored three runs on two hits and three Panther errors, extending its lead to 8-0.
In the seventh, Shiner designated hitter Dylan Hagens hit a two-run double and Baer drove in another run to make it 11-0.
"I'd have felt real bad about this thing if we'd have just thrown it around and missed it, but we made some good pitches and they made some good hits. That's baseball," Hodde said.
It was a tough ending for a Panther team that upset Iola and Bremond to reach the regional semifinals.
"This was my first year to coach, so it was special to have this whole team," Hodde said. "The first team's always going to be a special team, and rightfully so. We went three rounds deep, beat two ranked opponents and did some things people didn't think we were supposed to do."
The Panthers will lose four seniors from this year's team - Chovanec, catcher Bradley Nienstedt, center fielder Russell Roehling and first baseman Cody Muske.
"I asked them to be leaders from the very first day we had practice and they were that in every sense of the word," Hodde said. "They were always early, did what I asked and they picked everyone else up. When it came time to make some plays, they did that too. I can't say enough about all four. They were just great to work with and no doubt, they led our team."
While Burton will miss those four, the team has a solid foundation of young players on a team that was laden with sophomores this season.
"The future of Burton baseball is always bright because the want-to is there, the desire is there, and if you look around the infield and outfield, we're going to lose four position guys, but if you look at the core positions - shortstop, second, third, left field, right field - we've got them coming back," Hodde said. "The tradition allows next year to always be good because the kids are going to work and they're going to make things happen."
Burton's taste of playoff success this season will also motivate the team's off-season workouts, Hodde said.
"You get these young guys a little taste of this playoff fever and they want it," he said. "If you never get there, you never know what you're missing. If you get in there and you feel it, there's not a greater feeling. They're going to be hungry next year."
Bradley Nienstedt and Chovanec had Burton's only two hits.
GAME SUMMARY SHINER 200 033 3 - 11 12 1 BURTON 000 000 0 - 0 2 6 GAME STATISTICS SHINER AB R H RBI Baer, cf 5 2 4 3 Pustka, p 3 1 1 2 Boothe, 3b 3 1 0 0 Shimek, 1b 4 0 2 1 Strauss, c 4 1 2 1 Boedeker, 2b 2 2 0 0 Hagens, dh 4 1 1 2 O' Connor, rf 4 2 2 1 Kloesel, ss 4 1 0 0 BURTON AB R H RBI Colvin, ss 3 0 0 0 Mikowski, 2b 2 0 0 0 B Nienstedt, c 3 0 1 0 Chovanec, p 3 0 1 0 Muske, 1b 3 0 0 0 Casas, rf 2 0 0 0 Roehling, cf 1 0 0 0 R Nienstedt, 3b 2 0 0 0 Weigelt, lf 3 0 0 0 SHINER IP K BB H R ER Pustka, W(10-2) 7 11 4 2 0 0 BURTON IP K BB H R ER Chovanec, L(9-4) 7 5 1 12 11 7