The first time Liberty County played against the Burke County Bears four weeks ago the Panthers came out on top with a 10-6 win. Friday night, the Panthers edged out a 3-point lead to win 15-12 in what baseball coach David Samuel said was not their best performance.
"In fact," Samuel said. "It was ugly on both sides."
The Panthers scored 3 runs in the first, but gave up 5 runs to the Bears in the 2nd inning.
In the top of the 3rd inning Panther Joe Watkins started a rally with a double. Matt Desbiens got a base hit and an RBI. Zach Hensley reached first on a fielder’s choice and Dylan Connelly got a single and an RBI.
Panther Cameron Harris was walked and Cody French was hit by a pitch. Eddie Chipple and Chris Arnold both hit doubles, bringing in 2 runs apiece.
Panther Justin Eaton walked and Watkins slugged a single. Desbiens got his second RBI and Hensley got another base hit.
Burke was suddenly down and the Panthers continued to trickle in a few runs over rest of the game. The Bears were able to score 3 runs and still trailed 15-8 going in to top of the 7th inning.
Watkins had pitched 4 innings and Chris Rafferty threw for two before Chipple was brought in to start the 7th inning.
"He got the first batter to ground out to Watkins, who was then at 2nd base, and then struck out the 2nd batter in the inning," Samuel said. "The third batter was hit by the pitch and the fourth batter reached on a throwing error. After a few more hits and another error, Justin Eaton was called on to get the last out. He struck out the third batter he saw to end the game 15-12.
"It was a tough situation we put ourselves in. We did not finish the game out strong like we should have, but luckily our bats got us 15 runs and a cushion to work with to get the victory."
Samuel said the bats were hot, but the pitching and defense was not what he has come to expect from his team.
He said they will continue to work on the basics of pitching, hitting and the defense for the final stretch toward the playoffs.
The Panthers were scheduled to host Baldwin Saturday, but as of press time it was unclear whether a scheduling conflict with Baldwin’s prom would change the game.
LCHS record, 9-7 overall, 5-4 in region 3-AAA
Liberty County 15, Burke County 12
Winning Pitcher -- Joe Watkins, 4IP, 5H, 5R, 5K, Chris Rafferty 2IP, 4H, 1ER, Eddie Chipple 2/3 IP, 3H, 3ER, 1K, Save -- Justin Eaton 1/3 IP, 1H, 1K
Leading Hitters -- Joe Watkins 3-4, 2B, 1RBI, Matt Desbiens 3-5, 4RBI, Dylan Connelly 3-5, 2B, 2RBI, Zach Hensley 2-5, Eddie Chipple 2-5, 2RBI, Chris Arnold 1-4, 3RBI, Cody French 1-4