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Panthers clinch spot at state, take down Bulldogs with homers (5-3)
Byron Calahan stretches for a ball but keeps his foot on the bag for an out in the Panthers’ victory over Thomson Tuesday afternoon. - photo by By Patty Leon / Coastal Courier
It took Hank Aaron hitting some homers to send the Liberty County Panthers to a state bid. OK, so it was Henry (Hank) Barrett and Aaron Pringle, as well as a another homer from Chris Arnold to keep the Panthers ahead by 2 (5-3) to defeat the Thomson High Bulldogs of the northern sub region for 3-AAA.
“We finally finished one,” Panther coach Steve Cotrell said.
And they finished with pizzazz.
Skyler Hoffer pitched all seven innings, taking the win with 11 strikeouts and allowing only three hits.
Arnold hit a 2-run homer in the second, giving the Panthers a 3-1 lead over the Bulldogs. The Panthers struck again in the bottom of the fourth when Barrett hit a solo homer and Pringle hitting another 2-run homer for the 5-1 lead.
The Bulldogs attempted a late rally in the sixth when, with 2 outs and two men on, a Bulldog hit a double, sending the runners home and bringing the within 2.
Cotrell said his players were ready this time saying even at practice the seniors kept the younger players in check.
“Today I didn’t need to say a word to them,” the coach said. “I mean we still made some mistakes but they were the young kids that made the mistakes and that is going to happen. The good thing is that now these young kids are going to experience what baseball is about and that is going to help the program.”
The victory means the Panthers were scheduled to face the Burke County Bears Thursday night for the third time this year. In the two previous meetings the Panthers came back in the seventh inning to take both games by one run (5-4 in both games).
The difference this time was the Bears came to Panther Field. The game was to determine who the Panthers see at the Sweet Sixteen in the first round of playoffs May 9.
“We win on Thursday, then it looks like we will play Cairo,” the coach said. “We lose, we have to go to Crisp County.”
A regular season makeup game is scheduled for Saturday when the Panthers play Savannah Christian. Originally it was to be a double-header but due to scheduling conflicts they decided to play only one game.
We will bring you the results of Thursday’s game in Sunday’s Courier.
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