Panthers rebound, sweep Buckhorn
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By Tyler Melton
Beauregard and Smiths Station faced off on the baseball diamond Thursday and the Hornets handed Smiths Station third loss of the season. Despite out-pacing Beauregard nine to four in the hits column, Smiths Station’s late rally fell short as the Panthers fell short 6-5 on the scoreboard.
The Panthers got on the board in the second inning when Takael Demunn doubled, scoring Sterling Evilsizer to give Smiths Station an early 1-0 lead. Beauregard scored three runs in the fourth inning and three more in the fifth inning to take a commanding 6-2 lead.
Despite the four run deficit, Smiths Station answered with two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. Hunter Donaldson led off the inning with a triple to deep center field and scored on a single by Zane Faulk. But with the bases loaded, and an opportunity for a big inning, the Panthers were only able to get one more run across when Carter Duke scored on a Beauregard error.
Smiths Station mounted another rally in the bottom of the seventh inning. Trailing 6-4, Evilsizer led off the inning with a single to center field, moved to third on a single by Demunn, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Clayton Freeman to draw within a run. But a strikeout and pop out with the decisive runs on base brought the rally to an end.
Dylan Norrell took the loss for the Panthers on the mound. He allowed just one hit and three unearned runs over four innings, striking out two. Evilsizer pitched the final three innings in relief, giving up three runs on three hits. Demunn and Evilsizer each had two hits and Ellis Yohn had two RBIs.
Coach Mike Ferry said that the team has been missing the same energy recently that it had early in the season and that players can get caught up in how good others say you are.
“That wasn’t the case last night, more power to Beauregard for that. Their kid came out and threw good. We didn’t throw well and we made errors in costly situations. We out hit them but we didn’t out pitch them,” said Ferry.
Smiths Station rebounded with a pair of comeback victories against Buckhorn in a Friday evening doubleheader and improved to 16-3 overall on the season. The Panthers got on the board early in the first game with single runs in each of the first two innings. Hunter Donaldson singled to lead off and scored on a double by Carter Duke in the first inning. Then in the bottom of the second inning Ellis Yohn doubled to score Takael Demunn who had led off with a single.
A passed ball and a pair of errors plagued the Panthers in the third inning allowing Buckhorn to take a 3-2 lead that held up until the bottom of the fifth when Smiths Station manufactured the tying run.
With the game tied 3-3 in the sixth inning, the Panthers completed the comeback with a pair of runs. Clay Weatherly doubled to lead off the inning and scored on a double by Yohn. Hunter Donaldson singled to drive in Yohn to cap the 5-3 win.
Clay Weatherly started the game on the mound and went three innings, allowing three runs on one hit and striking out six. Brandon Gresham got the win allowing two hits and no runs over three innings, striking out six. Javi Marerro recorded the last three outs to earn the save.
In the nightcap of the doubleheader Smiths Station gave up a pair of runs in the first and second innings to dig a 4-0 hole. But the Panthers scored single runs in the second and third innings to get back in the game.
Evilsizer doubled and scored on a single by Yohn in the second. In the third Donaldson singled, stole second and third and scored on a Carter Duke groundout to close the gap to 4-2. Buckhorn added a pair of runs in the fourth inning and another two in the fifth but the Panthers clawed back both times. Down 6-2 in the fourth they tallied five hits including a single by Eli Richards that scored Freeman to cut the lead to 6-4. Down 8-4 in the fifth inning,
Smiths Station mounted another rally with a pair of runs in the fifth and then capped the comeback with a 6-run sixth inning. Hunter Donaldson singled to drive in Clayton Freeman who had reached after being hit by a pitch. The big blow came when Zane Faulk doubled to score Donaldson and Swilling to give the Panthers their first lead of the game 9-8. Hits by Evilisizer, Yohn and Freeman led to three more Panther runs in the inning and a 12-8 win.
Smiths Station used four pitchers in the game with Christian Bryan earning the win and Carson Swilling recorded the last three outs to earn the save. The Panthers collected 16 hits in the win. Yohn, Donaldson, and Evilsizer each had three hits.
Smiths Station heads to Orange Beach to compete in a Spring Break tournament March 25-27.
When asked about how they would focus on baseball at the beach Ferry noted, “It’s hard. There are always going to be distractions. The reason we go is to help build team chemistry. Every time we put a uniform on we want to win a game, but coming out of there, a lot of times you are either going to be a much better team because of the chemistry you create or you are going to be worse because you can’t create it. Our goal is to go down there and get these guys to buy into each other, to have each others back, to fight for each other. Most of the time we come out of there in a better place, win or loose, because we are closer as a team unit. In this game chemistry has as much to do with it as physical ability sometimes.”