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Panthers hang onto 3-2 victory Monday

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By Kristin Beck

Bottom of the fourth. With two outs and Brandon Franklin on second base, Jacob Wise hit a ground ball to the Holmes shortstop. He boots it, but makes the throw to first. Not in time.

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With a full head of steam, Franklin rounds the corner and barrels toward home plate. The throw home is in time, and the catcher prepares to make the tag. But Franklin will not be denied. He leaps over the catcher like a hurdler on the track team and lands on home plate, giving the Panthers a 3-0 advantage.

Starting pitcher Trey Boles and the Carroll defense would withstand a late-game rally from the visiting Bulldogs to hold on to a 3-2 win Monday night.

“No, I did not tell him to go,” head coach Josh Mefford said of Franklin. “But I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t even know that was legal. I didn’t know you could do that. I was fully expecting the umpire to call him out for jumping over the catcher, but it was a very, very nice little leap over the catcher right on the plate, and he was safe. That pretty much won the game for us, to be honest with you.”

Boles pitched a complete game, striking out 10 batters and walking just three.

“Trey’s been struggling here recently. The games he has pitched, teams have been hitting it pretty well,” Mefford said. “But this game he came in and he hit his spots much better.His curve ball was working really well tonight, and he got ahead in the counts and just knuckle-balled them a little bit here or there. He pitched really well, and I think this is going to be a big confidence booster for him going in to these later games, these district seeding games.”

Carroll scored its first two runs in the bottom of the second inning. John Michael Adams led off with a strikeout, but the catcher dropped the third strike, and Adams made it safely to first base. He stole second and third base, and Keifer McIntyre walked, putting runners on the corners.

Next up, Zach Beckham showed bunt, but pulled back, allowing McIntyre to reach second. Beckham drew a walk, loading the bases for Will Wallace. Wallace hit a ground ball to shortstop, forcing a fielder’s choice decision. McIntyre was tagged out at third by the shortstop, but the damage had already been done.

With two outs, Beckham stole third base, putting runners on the corners. A ball squirted past the catcher to the backstop, allowing Beckham to score and give his team a 2-0 cushion. 

However, the game stayed close through the end.

In the top of the fifth, the Bulldogs got the bats going, hitting two singles to put runners on first and second. A passed ball moved the runners to second and third, and an error by shortstop Adams on the throw brought a Holmes runner in for the first time all day, 3-1.

The Bulldogs scored their second run in the top of the 6th. The inning’s leadoff singled to left field, followed by a double over right fielder Wise’s head to put runners in scoring position. Two batters later, a Holmes batter hit a fly-ball to centerfield, allowing his teammate to tag up and score. However the bleeding stopped there as Boles sat down the next batter looking, preserving Carroll’s lead.

In their final attempt at the plate, the Bulldogs grounded out to Boles and Beckham at third and popped up to Dunn to end the game.

The Panthers have been struggling recently at the plate, notching just two runs over the weekend in the All-A Classic. While they were more patient with their pitch selection, the team did not knock in many hits, registering just two in the game, both singles by Jacob Wise.

“They were up there trying to hit a good pitch, it’s just when we get that good pitch, we just can’t hit it,” Mefford said. “Like I say, we’re young, we’ll work on it.”

The Panthers (8-7) took on Henry County at home Tuesday night and will play on the road this weekend. The team returns home Monday, April 23 for a game against Gallatin County.