By Noel Fary
The Lake County Corn Dogs fell to the Indiana Panthers in the Northern League playoff semi-finals on Monday, having been shut out 4-0.
With the loss in this best of three series, the Corn Dogs must win their next two games against the Panthers to advance to the championship round.
Check out the box score from the game.
Ivan Balboa started on the mound for the Corn Dogs and delivered three straight 1-2-3 innings out of the gate. After a solo shot and an error, Balboa finished with four innings pitched, two hits, two runs, one earned, two walks, and five strikeouts.
The Corn Dogs offense struggled just as much as the Panthers early, leaving two men on through the first three innings. Runners were getting on, but timely hits were hard to come by.
Hunter Niksch, the Panther’s starting arm, delivered six and one-third scoreless innings of baseball, only striking out one and relying on weak contact and an impressive defensive effort behind him.
The runs came slowly for the Panthers, but they grabbed a 3-0 lead in the top of the fifth and looked to hold on for the rest of the game. Two big opportunities came for the Corn Dogs in the bottom of the seventh and eighth, with two runners in scoring position and bases loaded, respectively, but no runs came from either inning.
The Panthers tacked on a final run in the top of the eighth, and successfully parked the bus, winning the game 4-0.
The game marked just the second time the Corn Dogs had ever been shut out as a franchise and the third time this season they lost as Legacy Fields. Headed into their next game against the Panthers, the Corn Dogs are in a must-win situation if they are to repeat as league champions.
The Corn Dogs take on the Panthers at Highland High School on Tuesday in game 2 of the Northern League semi-final series. Game time 7 p.m.