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They call it the “All ‘A’ curse.” And the Carroll County Panthers baseball team fell victim to it Monday night, losing 9-3 to district rival Gallatin County at Panther Field.
With the loss, Gallatin County should claim the No. 1 seed in the upcoming 31st District Tournament, with the Panthers taking the No. 2 seed. According to head coach Jimmy Ray, Henry County should be ranked third and Owen County fourth once the district tournament begins May 19.
“The “All ‘A’ curse. It happens,” Ray said. “Everybody comes back and lays an egg it seems like. They get so high and get down in the dumps, and we warned them about it. Hopefully it’s a one-day thing; we’ll see.”
It was the Panthers’ first game back since their All ‘A’ state tournament run in Lexington, Ky., where the boys defeated Hancock County on Saturday, but lost to Danville on Sunday in the Final Four.
The Panthers got off to a strong start, as starting pitcher senior Keifer McIntyre sat the first six Wildcat batters.
Junior Zakk Hicks led off in the bottom of the second with a double to centerfield. Sophomore Jackson “Boo” Donahue put a perfect bunt single down the third-base line, and senior John Michael Adams scored his teammates on a single up the middle, 2-0. Adams moved to third on the throw to home plate, and freshman Evan McMahan advanced him to third on a sacrifice bunt. Senior Jacob Wise hit a pop up in foul territory that Gallatin caught in their own dugout. But no one was there to cover home plate, allowing Adams to walk right in and give his team a 3-0 lead.
The Wildcats struck back in the top of the third, stringing together a walk, two singles and a sacrifice to pull within one, 3-2.
After their early offensive flurry, the Panthers would not get another hit the rest of the game. Gallatin took the lead in the top of the fourth on two hits and an error, 4-3, and plated another run in the fifth.
McIntyre struck out two batters, walked one and gave up six hits in five innings of work. Sophomore Justin Ray took the mound in the top of the sixth and struck out one batter, walked one and allowed two hits, as the Wildcats score four more runs. Senior Austin Crowell pitched the final inning for the Panthers. He walked the first batter, but forced a popup to junior catcher Austin Crowell and a groundout to Zakk Hicks at third. Hicks threw the ball to second baseman Alex Burns for the out, and the Wildcats were called for illegal contact as the runner ran into Burns’ feet for the last out.
Unfortunately, the Panthers just didn’t have a final run in them. Adams led off with a walk and Crowell followed, taking a ball to the back. But the seniors were left stranded, ending the game.
“We didn’t have a whole lot of emotion to begin with and the intensity was kind of low,” Ray said. “We walked around and moped around here.”
Ray said, recently, he has been doing something silly before the game to fire the team up, but did not Monday because he wanted to see if they could do it themselves. But the Panthers weren’t able to get the job done.
However, that does not mean all is lost for the team. “It’s not the end of the world,” Ray said. “(This game) didn’t stop us from any of our goals that we have for the end of the year. We’re fine.”
The Panthers played district rival Henry County in New Castle on Tuesday, and Ray said Monday he hoped the team would come out with more energy than they did against Gallatin.
“Win, lose, draw, I hope we have some intensity, a little energy. We didn’t have any of that today.”