No, it wasn’t the way the Oak Grove baseball team envisioned its season ending.

No, it wasn’t the way the Oak Grove baseball team envisioned its season ending.

Not after making a foray to the Class 3 quarterfinals for the first time since 1994. Not after overcoming a 6-5 start and rattling off 13 consecutive wins. And not after coming oh so close to the final four.

But even the disappointment of Thursday’s 9-3 loss to Savannah at Phil Welch Stadium in St. Joseph couldn’t overshadow the season’s accomplishments for coach Kirk Sears.

“Around 110 schools started the year playing in Class 3 and we were one of the last eight playing,” Sears said. “What a tremendous accomplishment.”

The Panthers’ accolades extended off the field, where Brett Kellogg, Zach Morgan, Corey Bolin, Cole Doherty and Jonathan Latshaw were named academic all-state. Oak Grove was also named an academic all-state team for having a cumulative 3.0 grade-point average – the Panthers finished with a 3.5 GPA.

Oak Grove (19-6) took a 1-0 lead in the first as Eric Gant scored on a Morgan single. But Savannah answered with a run in the bottom of the frame and posted four more in the fourth, three in the seventh and one in the sixth.

The Panthers pushed back in the top of the sixth with a pair of runs on RBI singles from Kellogg and Baker, but they went down with three consecutive strikeouts in the seventh.
Seann Baker and Corey Bolin both went 2-for-3 for Oak Grove.

Blake McFadden finished 2-for-4 with five RBIs for Savannah (23-4).

“Our kids played hard and they played until the end,” Sears said. “We kept giving ourselves opportunities, we just weren’t able to push enough runs across.”

The future still looks bright for Oak Grove with eight of 11 lettermen returning, but Sears added that the departures of seniors Gant, Kellogg and Morgan will leave an obvious void.

“This was a great group of kids to coach and it was a privilege to be their coach,” Sears said. “They are a great group of young men and they made the end of the school year so much fun. We’ll miss being around them every day.”