The Liberty County Panthers split region victories, losing 1-2 at Thomson on Friday night and defeating top-ranked West Laurens 8-7 on Saturday afternoon at home.
According to head coach David Samuel, Panther pitcher Joe Watkins pitched well in Friday’s loss, but Samuel said the Thomson pitcher was just as good, which kept the Panthers’ bats at bay.
"We collected two hits, one being a Chris Arnold homerun," Samuel said. "Under normal circumstances, we would have won a game with only one error and 3 hits given up. However, tonight we ran into a good pitcher."
After losing to the No. 2 team, the Panthers came back for Saturday’s home game and toppled the No. 1 West Laurens Raiders by one point.
"Saturday’s win was big for us," Samuel said. "West Laurens came in as the highest seed in our region with a 7-1 record. After the tough loss on Friday night, we wanted to win at home on Saturday against a good opponent. Justin Eaton started and pitched 4 solid innings before giving way to Chris Arnold. Justin struck out 3 and gave up 2 runs before he departed in the 4th inning. Chris threw one complete inning before Eddie Chipple was called to finish the game out. Chipple pitched 2 innings, picked up the win in relief and did not allow a hit."
Samuel said his pitching squad struggled but got the outs when it counted. He said the Panthers’ 6 errors made it tougher on the pitchers but hitting helped his squad stay in the game.
"The bats came alive for 11 hits and only 1 strikeout," he said. "Of the 11 hits, 5 were for extra bases. We were obviously seeing the ball well today because we hit some gaps in West Laurens’ defense."
The Panthers jumped ahead early, taking a 3-0 lead in the 1st inning. They added a run in the 5th and scored 4 runs in the bottom of the 6th to keep the one-point lead.
With the win against West Laurens, Samuel said the squad is preparing for the last stretch of the season.
"Now we look to next week by hosting Jenkins on Tuesday, heading to Burke on Friday, then taking on Baldwin at home on Saturday," he said.
The Panther squad is in fourth place in region 3-AAA with a region record of 4-4 and an overall record of 8-4.
Thomson 2, Liberty County 1
Losing pitcher: Joe Watkins 6IP, 3H, 2R, 1ER, 4BB, 7K
Hitters: Chris Arnold-solo homerun, Eddie Chipple 1B
Liberty County 8, West Laurens 7
Winning pitcher: Eddie Chipple
Leading Hitters: Joe Watkins 2-4, 2B, 1 RBI, Eddie Chipple 2-4, 2B, 3 RBI, Chris Arnold 2-4, 3B, 1 RBI, Brandon Whitmore 2-4, 1 RBI, Matt Desbiens 2B, Cody French 2B, Cameron Harris 1B