The Liberty County High School baseball team dropped its first two region games against Thomson (3-4) and West Laurens (6-20), but the Panthers soon rebounded, winning the next three region games against Burke County (12-0), Baldwin (12-2) and Richmond Hill (5-1).
Saturday’s victory over Richmond Hill was especially gratifying as the Wildcats were undefeated going into the game.
Panther coach David Samuel said it felt great to beat Richmond Hill for two reasons.
"One, being they were undefeated and, two, it put us on a three-game winning streak," he said.
In fact, the Region 3-AAA Panthers broke the .500 mark Saturday and are currently 3-2 in the region. They are 5-6 overall.
Panther pitcher Joe Watkins held the mound the entire game, giving up only one earned run to the Wildcats.
Samuel said Watkins dominated the mound. He had one walk and struck out 11 Wildcat batters.
In the first, the Panthers loaded the bases thanks to walks and two hit batters. Panther Matt Desbiens slugged in two runs to give the Liberty boys a quick lead.
Walks and another hit batter let the Panthers load the bases in the third inning. Panther Trey Sikes was walked to score another run, and Javaughn Shuman scored two runs with a shot to centerfield.
The Wildcats scored a run in the bottom of the third inning, but Watkins kept closing out batters and the Liberty boys took the 5-1 win.
Just two games earlier, Watkins pitched a one-hitter against Burke County. Samuel said Watkins does well, especially in clutch games.
"He threw very well," the coach said of the pitcher’s game against the Wildcats. "Every pitch was working and Joe dominated."
The boys play a non-region game today at 4 p.m. in Bryan County. On Saturday, region action returns in Washington County.
The coach said his team is looking much better than it did just a few weeks ago.
He said, "We have not peaked yet, which means we are only going to get better."