By Chad Dixon
The Smiths Station Panthers (14-3) won two-of-three last weekend at home. On March 16, Sterling Evilsizer ended a nine-inning extra innings game with a walk-off single to right to score Carson Swilling. Swilling reached on an error against Spain Park to start the inning. The Panthers won 4-3. Dalton Gunter scored a pair in the bottom of the fourth with a two-run double to give Smiths Station a 2-1 lead.
Gunter leads Smiths Station with 14 RBI. He is second on the team with batting average (.381) and has an on-base percentage of .490. He has scored 10 runs for Smiths Station this season.
Smiths Station, ranked number seven in Class 7A, faced off with number six Theodore on St. Patrick’s Day at home. The Panthers pounded out 10 runs on 11 hits and cruised to a 10-1 victory. Gunter singled home Justin Owens, who leads the team with a .395 batting average, in the bottom of the first to take a 1-0 lead.
Carter Duke hit a RBI double in the second to extend the lead to two. Smiths Station scored four times in the bottom the third. Jerry Bowman, Gunter and Evilsizer hit three straight singles to load the bases. Matt Ventimiglia was hit by a 1-0 pitch to force in Bowman. Colby Porter was hit in the next at bat to score Gunter. With the bases still loaded, Carter Duke singled to score Evilsizer. Dalton Harrelson hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Ventimiglia.
Ventimiglia hit a two-out double in the fourth to score Gunter, who was hit by a pitch earlier in the inning. Gunter added an RBI single in the fifth to score the ninth Smiths Station run. Gunter was a perfect 3-for-3, scored twice and drove in two. Ventimiglia drove in three runs and was 1-for-3. Clay Weatherly improved to 4-0. He pitched six innings, allowed an earned run on two hits and struck out four. He lowered his ERA to 2.00 and WHIP to 1.43 in his outing.
Smiths Station was held to just two runs on four hits against Auburn commit lefty Garrett Wade in game two on Saturday. Hartselle won 3-2. Wade reached on an error in the top of the seventh that plated the go-ahead run. Bowman took the hard luck loss. He pitched seven innings, allowed three unearned runs on six hits and struck out six. He still leads the state with a 0.23 ERA and a 0.69 WHIP. He has struck out 27 batters through 31 innings.
The Panthers will host Grissom High School on March 23 at 6 p.m. ET. They will travel to play Beauregard for a double header on March 24 starting at noon ET.