After finding their footing in the middle of the first inning, the Liberty County Panthers dug their heels in and held Thomson scoreless through the next six innings, but the three runs the Bulldogs got in the first were enough to beat Liberty, 3-2, Friday night.
In the first, apparent jitters from facing Region 3-AAA’s first place team, who beat Liberty by 1 run the first time they met this season, caused junior right-hander Joe Watkins to hit two batters and shortstop Eddie Chipple to commit an error, allowing the runs. That was the extent of Thomson offense. The rest of the game their at-bats were three up, three down, except one inning when Dontavius Brown collected his second hit of the night.In contrast to Thomson, the Panthers had seven hits, but had trouble scoring. At one point, they left the bases loaded. Thomson ace Abe Cartledge got the win and had seven strikeouts. The left-handed pitched threw six and two-thirds innings. He started to lose control in the sixth and, in the seventh, walked four batters, scoring one, while also getting two outs.
With the bases loaded, Panther right fielder, Brandon Whitmore, a junior, hit a line drive straight up the middle that dropped in front of the center fielder. It was his second hit of the night and brought another run in.
The next batter up, first baseman Trey Sikes, who had a stand-up double in the second, ground out to second.
Watkins suffered the loss. He had six strikeouts.
With the loss, the Panthers record stood at 4-3 in the region and 8-7. They were to play West Laurens in Dublin on Saturday, but the results were not available at press time.
According to ga.prepcountry.com, Thomson is No. 1 in the region. A win against West Laurens would keep them tied in wins and losses and Richmond Hill still plays a deciding role as the teams look to secure the second- through fourth-place spots.