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The Panthers baseball team capped off the regular season with a landslide victory over the visiting Williamstown Demons, 19-7, on Wednesday, May 15. It was the perfect way to say goodbye to the team’s eight seniors: Zach Beckham, Trey Boles, Dillon Craig, A.J. Dixon, Derrick Nickell, Chase Osborne, Brad Robbins and Brandon Stewart.
“They’re a good group of kids, they really are,” head coach Jimmy Ray said of his first graduating class. “They like having a good time. Some of it has been different with me coaching them because I think I pushed a little harder than they have been in the past at times. All in all, they’re a good group of kids, good student-athletes and pretty good boys. They’ll be missed. I enjoyed being around them and hope they enjoyed being around me.”
Osborne, Boles and Stewart assumed their normal positions in left field, shortstop and second base, respectively. Nickell started on the mound, withBeckham behind the dish. Dixon started at third base, while Robbins started at first base. Freshman Justin Ray and junior Jacob Wise started in centerfield and right field, respectively. Craig, battling muscle soreness, was the leadoff designated hitter for Ray.
After a leadoff single, Nickell and the Panthers defense shutdown the Demons in the top of the first, as Robbins fielded a bunt at first base and Nickell struck out the three and four-hitters.
Carroll’s first three batters were helped on base, drawing walks off Williamstown starter Kyle Rahschulte. In the cleanup spot, Robbins hit a two-RBI double down the left field line. Dixon followed with a SAC fly to center, scoring another run, 3-0. Beckham was hit by a pitch, and Osborne followed with an RBI single over the second baseman’s head. Nickell hit an RBI single up the middle, 5-0, and Wise followed with an RBI single past shortstop.
With courtesy runner Alex Burns on third and Wise on first, Craig hit a three-run homerun over the fence in left center to give Carroll a 9-0 lead.
That was enough for the Demons, as Gage Pinkston came in to pitch and got the next two batters out to end the inning.
Williamstown managed a single in the top of the second, but nothing more, bringing the Panthers back around to the plate.
Robbins got on base on a fielding error and scored on a throwing error after a groundball by Beckham. Osborne drew a walk, and Wise hit an RBI double to left field, 11-0.
It was the same story for Williamstown in the third: one single and that was all, as Nickell collected three strikeouts.
In the bottom of the third, Craig walked, Stewart singled to left field and Robbins walked, loading the bases for Dixon, who hit an RBI single to right field. With two outs, Osborne hit a fly ball to the outfield that was dropped, scoring two more runs, 14-0. Nickell followed with a two-RBI single to left field, 16-0.
The Demons fought back in the top of the fourth, as Nickell began to struggle on the mound, walking the first three batters. Gage Pinkston hit an RBI single to left, scoring his team’s first run. Nickell struck out the next two batters before giving up two more RBI singles, 16-3.
With bases still loaded, Pinkston hit a grand slam over the left field fence, 16-7.
Ray decided to swap Nickell and Dixon, who allowed a walk before striking out the final batter.
The Panthers didn’t allow the homerun to shake their confidence, as Boles led off with a single to right field. Robbins got on after an error, and Dixon hit an RBI single to left, 17-7. Osborne hit a two-RBI single to left field for the final runs of the day, 19-7.
Overall, Ray said he thought Nickell pitched a good game, but just got a little tired toward the end.
The Panthers end the regular season at 19-13, the most regular season wins since 2009.
“It’s been a good season; it’s been an enjoyable season,” Ray said. “We had our ups and downs and trying to figure each other out, but in the end, we played some pretty decent baseball and hopefully it will carry over into the district and the region.”