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An inning of miscues by the Trimble County Raiders opened the door for the Carroll County Panthers to take a big lead on their border-rivals and ultimately win, 13-3, in five innings Thursday, March 20, at Panther Field.
Down 1-0 in the bottom of the second, Carroll’s Seth Hicks led off with a walkand Austin Crowell was hit in the back by a pitch. Jackson “Boo” Donahue laid down a bunt to the first base side, but an error on the throw allowed Hicks to score.
During the next at-bat, Donahue took off for second base. Trimble attempted to throw him out, but the ball sailed into center field, allowing Crowell to score. Jacob Wise was hit by a pitch, and he and Donahue advanced on a pitch in the dirt with no one covering. Justin Ray hit a two-RBI-double to centerfield to give Carroll a 4-1 lead.
With two outs, Zakk Hicks reached on a fielding error, and John Michael Adams singled to center to load the bases. Seth Hicks came back around in the order and blasted a grand slam over the centerfield fence, 8-1.
“Seth is from Trimble County and went to school there the first eight years so that was big for him,” Carroll head coach Jimmy Ray said. “It kind of relaxed everybody, everybody seemed to play well after that. It’s easy to play when you’ve got a lead. Everybody is loose and relaxed.”
This is not the first time Seth has shown he is a power hitter, Ray said.
“We had an intrasquad scrimmage a couple weeks ago, and his first at-bat, he bounced one off the fence off his brother [Zakk, who was pitching]. Then in batting practice a couple days later, he hit two home runs. He’s got some power. He’s a pleasant surprise to be there and I’m glad to have him. He’s a good kid.
Keifer McIntyre singled after the home run, but the Raiders were able to get out of the inning without any more damage.
“The second inning hurt us a little bit,” Trimble head coach Frank Ragland said. Walked a few and then just didn’t execute on a couple plays and then, next thing you know, we gave up six unearned runs that inning. We should have gotten out of the inning down 2-1 at worst and that puts your pitcher in a different mindset when he goes out to the mound the next inning and that puts your hitters in a different mindset and kind of gets you back on your heels. It was just a bad inning.”
The Panthers kept the bats rolling in the bottom of the third inning. Ray hit a single up the middle, followed by a double off the left field fence by Austin Dunn. Zakk Hicks brought both teammates home on a double off the center field fence, 10-1.
Ragland made a pitching change, bringing in Jacob Lindon for starter Hunter Duncan. Lindon struck out Seth Hicks, but walked four Panthers to put two more runs on the board for the home team, 12-1.
In the top of the fourth, Robert Harris led off with a walk, but was tagged out at second after Brian Haney’s grounder to Adams at shortstop. Brad Ginn singled to center field, but the Panthers turned a 1-4-3 double play to end the inning.
Trimble’s Andrew Young entered to pitch in the top of the fourth. Ray singled to shallow center, and Dunn beat out the throw on a grounder to shortstop to put two runners on. Unfortunately for the Panthers, they left two ducks on the pond and headed into the top of the fifth.
Keifer McIntyre took the mound in relief, and Taylor Hill took over at first base. Trimble’s first two batters reached on a fielding error at second base and a walk, and Duncan singled to right to load the bases. Lindon hit an RBI single to centerfield, 12-2. Harris followed with a grounder to McIntyre, and a run scored after a bad exchange between pitcher and catcher, 12-3. But McIntyre rebounded, forcing a fly to Donahue in right and striking out the last batter to retire the side.
McIntyre led off to start the inning and singled to center. Evan McMahan subbed in as the courtesy runner for the pitcher. Crowell laid down a bunt single, and Donahue reached after a Trimble error on his bunt. With bases loaded, Wise hit a grounder toward third, and McMahan hustled down the line and dove into home plate to score the game-ending run.
“We hustled,” Ray said. “I know Austin Dunn hustled out an infield hit, Austin Crowell hustled out an infield hit. Evan McMahan made a nice play running there, hustling, sliding in there at the plate, and that was going to be a bang-bang play. I don’t fault their effort.”
Ray said he thought his team hit pretty well and did a good job of taking advantage of Trimble’s mistakes.
“The first inning our swings weren’t very good, but we got it going after they made a couple errors and stayed on pretty good,” he said. “The defense was pretty solid for the most part. We had a couple hiccups, but I thought Boo made a nice play in right field tracking that ball down for the third out of an inning. That was a nice play. Then we made a double play to end an inning.”
Besides the second inning, Raglad said he did not think his team played tremendously bad.
“We just had a bad inning,” he said. “We’ve got to keep from doing that, can’t let those kinds of innings happen and it happened tonight. And you can’t do it against a team like Carroll because they’re going to make you pay for it and they did.”
Ragland said he was pleased that his team did not give up. “They could have laid down and folded a tent up in the top of the fifth inning and said, ‘We’re going to let you get us out 1, 2, 3 and go home,’ but we put some runs on the board and extended the game a little bit and unfortunately we made a couple glitches the next inning and then they ended up winning.”
Zakk Hicks earned the win on the mound, pitching four innings and striking out four. He also hit a double and had two RBIs. Ray was 3-4 with a double, two singles and two RBIs. Dunn hit a single and a double, while Adams and McIntyre both hit two singles. Wise and Crowell both hit a single and had an RBI.