INDEPENDENCE – The Central High School Panthers baseball team’s hard work this season has paid off.

A solid postseason performance has led the team to the state championship game on Saturday, where the Panthers (24-4 overall, 14-2 Mid-Willamette Conference) will face Pendleton (18-8 overall, 12-3 Intermountain Conference) at Volcanoes Stadium, in Keizer, at 5 p.m.

Tuesday, the Panthers won 1-0 in overtime against Thurston (24-6 overall, 14-2 Midwestern League) to clinch the semifinals victory.

On the bump, senior Kaleb Kantola threw eight innings, striking out 15 and only allowing three hits.

In the box, senior Brendan Lesmeister was one-for-four, and drove junior Kyle Holt home in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Sophomore Justin Girod and seniors Emiliano Alarcon and Ruben Cedillo also collected hits during the game.

To purchase tickets for Saturday’s game, visit

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