After trailing much of the game, and down three in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Lakeside Panthers refused to give up in their baseball home- and season-opener against Grovetown on Tuesday.
The Panthers worked their way onto the bases in the final stanza with walks, hits and a Warriors error to orchestrate a 7-6 come-from-behind victory.
With no outs, the bases loaded and still clinging to a 6-5 lead, Warriors pitcher Garrett Haskins almost worked out of the jam with consecutive strikeouts, but he surrendered a walk to pinch-hitter David Endredi to tie the score. Then, Lane Wallace also walked to bring in the game-winning run.
“The kids showed a lot of heart and battled to the end,” said Panthers head coach Jay Matthews. “I almost feel guilty winning with a walk, but we’ll take it any way we can get it.”
Haskins (0-1), who went the entire way for the Warriors, was most undone by control issues as four of his eight walks came in the bottom of the seventh. He finished with six strikeouts, five wild pitches and three hit-batsmen as the Warriors record evened at 1-1.
Despite his control issues, Warriors head coach Mike Jones wasn’t about to take out his senior hurler with a big lead.
“We were in the seventh inning up three and watching his pitch count,” Jones said. “We wanted to see what he could do.”
Sophomore Evan Krenz (1-0) pitched the final inning for the Panthers and got the win.
It didn’t look like any late-game heroics would be in store as the Warriors jumped out to a 4-0 lead after Cody McAllister’s two-run single in the bottom of the third.
Tanner Brassel’s two-run single in the fifth cut the lead to 4-3, but the Warriors added single runs in the sixth and seventh innings off freshman Peyton Jones and Krenz, respectively. The underclassmen took over after junior Hunter Hubbard went five innings, giving up five hits and four runs.
Even while trailing 4-3 heading into the sixth, Matthews had no trepidation handing the ball to the freshman lefty Jones and subsequently Krenz.
“We have no wins at the varsity level from anyone on the pitching staff,” Matthews said. “We have five or six guys we’re going to run out all season. Tonight they went out and battled and gave us an opportunity at the end.”
Tanner Durand paced the Panthers, going 3 for 4 with an RBI while Zach Hornsby was 2 for 3 and scored twice.
For the Warriors, Phillip Dukes was 2 for 2 with two runs scored and an RBI. Ryan Beasley was 2 for 4 and Cameron Busby scored twice.