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The Panthers played virtually flawless in their opening round district game against Eminence Monday at Gallatin County High School. With the win, Carroll played Owen County in the second round Tuesday night. Results were unavailable by press time. The winner will advance to the district championship Wednesday at 6 p.m., as well as punch their ticket to the regional tournament.
Starting pitcher Derrick Nickell allowed just one hit in four innings on the mound, striking out five batters and walking one. “Derrick pitched real well today. Derrick almost always pitches real well,” head coach Josh Mefford said. “That’s his main job, so he takes pride in it and he always works hard at it and does really well.”
Chase Osborne came in to close out the win in the top of the fifth, forcing a ground out, strike out and pop fly.
“We played a good game, we won,” Mefford said. “They came in really confident to this game, and I think that’s what we’ve been lacking and we’re just hoping it carries over into tomorrow’s game. … Everybody plays with a lot of confidence against Eminence, and Eminence is definitely a team that can sneak in there and beat you. Gallatin County knows about that because they beat them in the Class A, and we came in with that mindset, that it is very possible they could slip in here and beat us, so we came mentally prepared.”
The Panthers took advantage of the young Warriors’ mistakes and did a good job of putting the ball in play.
Taylor Hill made the most of his varsity start as the designated hitting, going 2-3 with two singles.
“He’s only had pinch hits here and there,” Mefford said. “He hasn’t hit too much, so for him to come in and have a 2-3 game that’s a big game for him.”
Dillon Craig started things off in the bottom of the first by getting on following a fielding error. He stole second and scored on an RBI single by Austin Dunn. Trey Boles followed with an RBI triple down the right field line, 2-0.
In the bottom of the second, Hill singled and stole second on a passed ball. Osborne hit a grounder and got on base after an error, allowing Hill to score, 3-0.
Craig grounded to shortstop, and Dunn hit an RBI single to right field with two outs. Boles followed with a two-RBI-single to centerfield, 6-0. Keifer McIntyre hit a groundball to third base. He was safe after an errant throw, which also allowed Boles to score, 7-0.
With two outs in the bottom of the third, Carroll hit back-to-back RBI doubles, one by Craig and one by Jacob Wise, giving them a 9-0 advantage. They scored their final run of the game in the bottom of the fourth. Boles singled to center and advanced on a sac bunt by McIntyre. Boles stole third and scored on a throwing error.
Craig will take the mound as the starting pitcher for Carroll as they take on Owen County in the second round of districts. The Panthers have lost the previous two outings by scores of 3-0 and 17-0. In the last outing, Mefford said his team did not have a good performance “in any way, shape or form,” but did not feel like it was a good measurement of how well his team can play.
“If we can go in and Dillon pitches a good game and we have good defense behind him, I think it’s very, very possible we can come in and beat them,” Mefford said.
“I think (this win has) given them some confidence going into it. We’re going to go back and start preparing right now. … We’re taking it very serious. We really feel like we can win districts. We haven’t had a great season, ups and downs, but we really feel like we have a chance. So we’re going to come out and throw our best at them tomorrow and hope we score some runs.”