Two high school baseball teams which use the Panthers mascot two states apart brought a halt to two of the nation's longest losing streaks on Saturday and Sunday, ending more than four years of combined misery for the two schools.
As reported by the Annapolis Capital and Philadelphia Inquirer, the Annapolis (Md.) High baseball team ended a 40-game losing streak on Saturday and the Camden (N.J.) High baseball squad brought an end to its own 36-game dry spell on Sunday, with both squads' previous losing streaks spanning more than two full seasons.
Annapolis was first to break the program's victory drought, scratching out a 2-1 victory against nearby Severn (Md.) High. As reported by the Capital, the victory was almost solely driven by pitcher Michael Patterson, who pitched a complete-game three-hitter for the Panthers and struck out seven, allowing just one run across his 90-pitch outing. The Annapolis star also drove in his team's winning run with a sixth-inning RBI single, delivering a hit just in time for him to go back out and close out the school's first victory since April 2010.
"These kids are very excited. It's definitely a step in the right direction for turning this program around," Annapolis coach Gene Bowles told the Capital. "To have a team effort like we did today and beat a team like Severn is a big statement. This game could turn the page for us here at Annapolis."
While Annapolis' hard luck streak may have lasted for longer in terms of games, Camden's was more epic in terms of how many days it encompassed. The Panthers had not won a competitive baseball game since the final game of the 2009 season, with Camden finishing with an 0-fer record in both 2010 and 2011.
That won't be the case in 2012 thanks to Juan Rivas, the Camden pitcher who came on in relief with his team trailing LEAP Academy, 3-1, and pitched five solid innings to earn the Panthers a monumental, 9-4 victory.
The victory came as part of the annual Camden County Tournament, an event which Camden may be some time away from winning outright. That seems unlikely to trouble the Panthers today, with the program still reveling in a return to success early in the 2012 New Jersey baseball season.
That's OK, because the Camden players and coaches certainly aren't alone. Annapolis, for one, knows exactly how they feel.