"But I was extremely happy with the way we came back, the fact that we got within a run and had a chance to maybe even tie it up. That says a lot for us, especially being such a young team."
Poly began the game with a three-run first inning fueled by two hits, three walks and a hit batsman. Prep starting pitcher Kyle McDonald was taken off the mound due to a stiff neck after the first inning and was replaced by Clayton Weirick, although McDonald would remain in the game at shortstop, where he threw out six batters.
Weirick had a rough second inning, as the Panthers added four more runs on a walk, a single, a run-scoring double, and another single, followed by a run-scoring fielder's choice, a sacrifice fly and a run-scoring single by Logan Beerman that made the score 7-0.
But Weirick settled down nicely and got the game under control by allowing no runs on just one hit over the next three frames.
"Clayton gave us a fantastic effort in relief," Cook said of Weirick, who was pulled after allowing a leadoff single in the sixth inning. "He came in and pitched four-plus innings. …He did what I asked him to and went several more innings than I anticipated."
Meanwhile, the Rebels' offense began to get to Poly starter Jordan Kutzer in the bottom of the third with back-to-back singles by the first two batters Daniel Enzminger and McDonald. With Brendan McKiernan batting, McDonald swiped second base, drawing an errant throw from behind the plate that skipped into the outfield and allowed Enzminger to score from third base.
McKiernan completed his at-bat with a single and Royce Park walked to load the bases, but the Rebels couldn't come up with a hit, settling instead for a pair of runs on a balk and a groundout.