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Four the hard way
Panthers play next 4 regional games on the road
Chris Arnold throws one across the plate in Friday’s win against Burke County. - photo by By Patty Leon / Coastal Courier
Whether it was the Panthers’ strategy or a case of déjà vu, the Burke County Bears fell to the Panthers the same way they did in their first regional loss, allowing the Panthers to come from behind in the 7th inning.
Panther coach Steve Cotrell said the Bears controlled the whole game. He said his players were neither motivated nor ready to play.
“But in the end of the 4th and beginning of the 5th a light came on in our players and we started playing a little harder and a little better,” he said. “But, honestly, Burke started making mistakes. They let us back in the game.”
Cotrell said the players didn’t swing the bat well but the Bears walked 8 and allowed 3 hits and gave the Panthers a few freebies.
“It was 1-4 going into the 5th,” he said. “Then we scored one in the fifth and one in the 6th making 3-4 and just like the last time we played them we trailed by 1 going into the 7th.”
Cotrell said the lead batter got out. Justin Eaton drew a walk and stole second. Eaton then took third on a fastball pitch. Skyler Hoffer hit a ground ball to the third baseman and Eaton appeared to be dead at the plate but a bad throw allowed him to score and tie the game. Hoffer stole second and then made third on a pitch. The Panthers then loaded the bases.
“Kendrick Jones was at bat with a 3-1 count, bases loaded and 2 outs,” Cotrell said. “They tried a pick off move to first and threw the ballgame away. That’s how we won.
“The one thing I can say positive is that our kids kept fighting and believing. They knew how important that game was. You know to get back into control of what we can control instead of waiting for other teams to lose.”
What the Panthers can control is locking up second place in the region behind South Effingham. The first of 4 regional road games was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon against Richmond Hill.
“Right now we are looking at realistic goals,” Cotrell said. “We have to take care of ourselves and we have to play one game at a time, which means Richmond Hill (Tuesday) and then we will worry about Hephzibah and Benedictine. We are still in control of second place and if we finish second then we get to host a playoff game to see who gets in the state playoffs.”
The Panthers are scheduled to play one non-regional game at home against Calvary Day on Thursday and are scheduled to play non-regional games just before their regional road game against South Effingham. But it’s this week that Cotrell is a little concerned about.
“It’s going to be tough, especially with prom coming up this Saturday night,” he said. “It’s hard to keep these kids’ minds off prom and tell them they can go for 2-1/2 hours and then get back in for a game the next day. We will find out what we are made of and how mature we are.”
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