FALKNER – After being held to just one run on two hits in Game 1 of their Class 1A North Semi-final series against the Falkner Eagles, the Pine Grove Panthers broke through for 13 hits in a 14-3 rout in Game 2.
The Panthers knotted the best-of-three series at 1-1, with a decisive Game 3 set for Monday at 7 p.m. at Pine Grove.
“We had to have it,” said Panther shortstop Jimmy Spires, who had four hits, including three doubles, and scored a run. “It was down to a one-game season. Coach (Shinall) preached it all day long.”
Trent Collins took the hill for the Panthers, going the distance for his fourth win of the season. He allowed three runs – one each in the first third and sixth inning – scattered eight hits and struck-out five.
Falkner coach Chip Johnson said Collins “pounded the strike zone” but his team just had a bad day at the plate. Leading hitter Will Robertson walked twice, including once intentionally, but went 0-2. Second baseman Dallas Hill and starting pitcher Cameron Russell had six of the Eagles eight hits.
“They hit the ball and we didn’t,” said Johnson. “We knew we were going to have to hit with this team but we just didn’t hit the ball.”
The Panthers, who trailed 1-0 after one inning, started their scoring in the second inning. After Russell loaded the bases by hit batsman, a walk and a single, a Zak Thronton 2-RBI single scored Andrew Hopper and Blake West. A Wesley Graves fielder’s choice scored Raygen Stroupe and Graves later scored on a Austin Hopper single four a 4-1 lead.
The Panthers scored at least one run in each of the final five innings. They had a three-run fourth inning on an RBI-single by Matt King and a 2-RBI double by Blake West. Back-to-back doubles by King and Hopper started at five-run sixth.
“The game plan coming in was for Trent to throw strikes and for us to hit the ball, and that’s what we did,” said Panther coach Chris Shinall. “It was a one-game season today and it’ll be a one-game season Monday. That’s how we have to look at it from here on out.”
Kedrick Storey/Southern Sentinel