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 Panthers Outslug Tigers to Advance to Championship

June 4, 2008 - Knightstown used two big offensive innings to jump out to an early 10-0 lead, and then held on for dear life in a 10-6 semifinal round victory over Hagerstown in the Northeastern Sectional last Wednesday.

A three-run first inning and a seven-run fourth would be all of the offense the Panthers could muster against Tiger pitching. After opening up the 10-0 lead, Knightstown had to wait out a nearly 30-minute rain delay in the marathon game, which lasted almost four hours.

The game was moved to the Richmond Roosters’ stadium due to adverse weather. The stadium had lights to accommodate the later game, which started at 7:30. Knightstown opened the game by getting three runs in the first inning. Levi Blair opened the game with a walk and Joe Haase ripped a single to left field. Jordan Bearhope then drew another walk and the Panthers had the bases loaded with one out.

After Chad Oakes popped out, Jared Kayajan provided the game’s first big blow by lining a single to left field that scored Blair and Haase. Bearhope then crossed the plate after another clutch single by Trey McColley to spot the Panthers to a 3-0 lead.

Through the first four innings Bearhope gave up two singles and walked four hitters. He was in enough control of the game that Hagerstown had nothing to show for seven base runners through four frames.

Knightstown then batted around in the fourth inning, getting seven runs and opening up what appeared to be an insurmountable 10-0 lead. Biehl singled, Haase was walked and Bearhope singled to load the bases.

Oakes then delivered with a two-run single to right-centerfield that scored Biehl and Haase. Kayajan reached on an error that scored Kayajan and Travis Titus followed with a liner that the left-fielder couldn’t handle to send two more runners home.

By the time the inning ended the Panthers had scored seven runs on four hits and the Tigers had committed three errors. But they didn’t add to that lead, leaving seven runners on base over the last three innings, including the bases loaded in the sixth. Blair, Biehl and Bearhope were all stranded on base in the sixth inning, and Drew Martin and Titus were left on in the seventh.

The Panthers weren’t the same team after the rain delay. Hagerstown got back into the game by scoring two runs in fifth, sixth and seventh innings. Over that three inning stretch Knightstown pitchers walked eight Hagerstown batters and three of them scored.

Bearhope worked the first five innings allowing two runs on three hits. Through four frames Bearhope had shut out the Tigers and yielded just two hits. But he got into some trouble in the fifth frame when with one out he walked the next three batters. A two-RBI single by Bryant DeBaun sent two of those runners home to cut the lead to 10-2.

Bearhope ended that threat by fanning the next two hitters.

But the Tigers got things going again in the sixth inning when Ross Sharp singled and Chad Lieberman hit a triple to score Sharp. Two straight walks to Zach Favorite and Sam Wilson loaded the bases before Knightstown coach Donnie Martin made a pitching move.

Martin brought on Zach Burchett and he walked DeBaun to force in another run and cut the lead to 10-4. But Burchett got out of the jam by enticing Lex Bartlett to pop out and end in the inning.

Hagerstown collected two more runs on two hits in the sixth inning, cutting the lead to 10-6 when Sharp scored on a wild pitch and Derrick Colvin scored on a passed ball.

Despite busting out of the gates with a 10-0 lead, the Panthers had to settle for a relatively a sloppy win, but a win nonetheless.

Hagerstown left the bases loaded twice and stranded 14 runners in the game. Knightstown left 12 men on base as both teams wasted several scoring opportunities. Kayajan finished the game with a pretty productive day, getting on base all five times he came to the plate. The junior right fielder went 3-for-4 with two singles, a double, was walked once and reached on an error. He had a team-high three RBIs and also scored a run.

Haase went 2-for-3 with a pair of runs scored, and Biehl also had two hits. Titus and Oakes both had two RBIs.

 

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