It's Marist -- again.
Lakeside baseball's sweep of Harris County last week earned it a trip to the powerhouse private school for the Class AAAA baseball quarterfinals. The Panthers, Region 3-AAAA champions and 4-0 through two rounds of the state playoffs, are venturing into uncharted territory.
But as a school, Lakeside is not.
Marist eliminated the Panthers boys and girls soccer programs in the Class AAAA quarterfinals this year. Both Lakeside tennis teams fell to Marist in the quarterfinals. The girls lacrosse team was bumped from what could have been a region playoff spot in a season-ending loss to Marist.
The Panthers baseball team travels to Marist on Tuesday to try to snap the unfortunate streak.
"We're pumped," Lakeside second baseman Spencer Starnes said. "We're ready."
A Marist scout was said to be in attendance at Lakeside's second-round series. Davis said the Panthers didn't have the personnel to plan reconnaissance missions, and that he wanted his assistants coaching the game and not watching someone else.
He said he would call Marist's opposing coaches and surf the Internet for info.
"We'll have to see what we can get these next four or five days," Davis said. "But they're tough. Nobody gets this far in the playoffs without being tough."
The Panthers, who played host to their first two playoff series, reached the quarterfinals after pounding Harris County pitching and receiving two solid performances from starters Ryan Hutchins and Harrison Brawley.
Both went the distance in their respective games to pick up wins. Each has a distinctly different style.
Hutchins lit up the radar guns during Lakeside's 7-5 win in the opener. Brawley, decidedly slower than Hutchins, frustrated the Harris County lineup with a variety of looks during the Panthers' 9-3 win in Game 2.
"They work back-to-back very well," Davis said. "It's tough to get a read on them."
Lakeside hitters piled up 17 hits in Game 2. The Panthers' first six batters reached safely during a three-run first inning.
Shortstop Patrick Arrington was 4-for-5 and second baseman Spencer Starnes finished with three hits and scored twice.
Lakeside's success at the plate spurred Brawley, who needs little extra incentive to pick up his intensity. He dissected the Harris County lineup with a variety of pitches emphasized with fist pumps or by stomping the dirt on the mound.
At one point, after a key strikeout to end an inning, Brawley galloped to the dugout.
"He keeps us all pretty pumped up," Starnes said. "He has his moments, but he keeps us in the game at all times."
Hutchins blew it by the Tigers, striking out eight.
Both pitchers will probably be called on again Tuesday at Marist, as the Panthers continue their historic season.
"They're good," Davis said. "We got to go up there and play."
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