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Panthers bounce back
Liberty County High School senior baseball players are flanked by family members after being honored just before game time at Panther Field on Saturday. From left to right: Matt Desbiens, Robbie Sauls, Cameron Harris, Patrick McDonald, Javaughn Shuman, Trey Sikes, Joe Watkins and Brandon Whitemore. Sam Wilson is not pictured. - photo by Photo by Erin Kitchings

After losing two games, the Liberty Panthers bounced back to shut out McIntosh Academy, 10-0, on Monday at home in a makeup game that previously was rained out.

It was the win the Panthers (5-14) needed after a bad bounce in the bottom of the seventh inning and a good pitching staff led to back-to-back losses Friday night and Saturday afternoon.

On Friday, Liberty County had a two-run lead going into the bottom of the seventh inning at Glynn Academy. The Red Terrors were down to their last out when their leadoff hitter doubled to center field.

"The next batter hit a four-hopper to Brandon (Whitmore) at second base," coach David Samuel said. "It looked like the game was in our hands, but the ball took a terrible hop over Brandon’s head, which allowed Glynn to tie the game."

With the score tied, the next Red Terror pulled a pitch down the right-field line for a two-run homer and a 4-2 win.

"It was a heartbreaker," Samuel said. "We played well, Tony (Smith) pitched great and in the end, one bad bounce cost us the game."

Antonio Smith pitched 6 2⁄3 innings, allowing seven hits, two walks and four runs. He struck out three.

Trey Sikes was 1 for 3 with an RBI, Cameron Harris went 1 for 4 and Brandon Whitmore was 1 for 2.

On Saturday afternoon, Liberty County took the field to honor the seniors before hosting Savannah Christian.

Seniors Harris, Sikes, Whitmore, Javaughn Shuman, Robbie Sauls, Patrick McDonald, Matt Desbiens and Joe Watkins were escorted by family members to the center of the Panthers’ diamond to celebrate their final high school game on their home turf. Senior Sam Wilson also was honored but was touring a college that day.

A solid pitching performance by the Red Raiders kept the Panthers off the bases in the 8-0 loss.

"We only drew three walks with our three hits," Samuel said. "It just wasn’t our day on Saturday."

Richard Lovelady pitched 1 2⁄3 innings, giving up five hits and three earned runs. Sikes pitched
3 1⁄3 innings, allowing seven hits and four runs while earning three strikeouts. McDonald pitched two innings. He walked five batters, gave up a hit and struck out one.

Sikes went 1 for 3 with a double, Harris was 1 for 3 and Deshaun Collins went 1 for 2.

"Trey pitched well in relief for us. Richard did not walk any batters, and Patrick didn’t allow any runs in two innings of relief," the coach said. "Trey also hit a solid double in the gap, but unfortunately Savannah Christian’s pitchers held us off of the bases for most of the game. I was hoping the game would have gone far better for our seniors on senior day."

The Panthers had a final chance to play at home and beat the Buccaneers, 10-0, in five innings.

"After a 10-0 win, the mood was great," Samuel said. "Everyone was joking around, laughing and having fun. I’m glad our seniors could end their final home game like they did."

Whitmore threw all five innings. He gave up one hit and had seven strikeouts.

"He pitched very well and nearly had the no-hitter," Samuel said.

Shuman was 2 for 3 with a home run and three RBIs. Desbiens was 2 for 3 with two doubles and one RBI; Sikes was 2 for 3 with two RBIs; Watkins went 2- for 2 with one RBI. Wilson and Harris added base hits.

"I was proud of the guys because they were able to walk away from their field for the last time as big winners," the coach said.

The Panthers are 5-14 overall and 1-9 in Region 2A-AAAA. They travel to Southeast Bulloch for a 5:30 p.m. game today.

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