Panthers win series against Chiefs 2-1


Lilly Carter

Panther pitcher delivers the ball. Starr’s Mill pitched very well throughout the entire game, only giving up three hits and no runs.

Ty Odom, Staff Writer

Following a 3-0 series sweep against the Whitewater Wildcats, the Starr’s Mill Panthers baseball team continued their region success with a 2-1 series victory over the city rival McIntosh Chiefs.

We never get down. No matter what the score is, we just keep going until we win.”

— Sophomore Hunter Lawson

The Panthers won the first game at home 2-0, but lost 1-0 in the next game at McIntosh, setting up for a series-clinching game at Starr’s Mill last Friday night.

“We never give up,” sophomore Hunter Lawson said. “We never get down. No matter what the score is, we just keep going until we win.”

The top of the first inning was three up, three down, with senior pitcher Dawson Sweatt striking out the first batter. The second and third batters were both thrown out by freshman third baseman Sean White and senior catcher Charlie Mizzell, respectively.

Starr’s Mill also started off slowly with sophomore Beau Gardner leading off with a pop out. Junior Brian Port and senior Mitchell Sutton were both thrown out at first, retiring the side and neither team getting on base.

The second inning started off with Sweatt walking his first batter. The second batter followed with a bunt, but an infield error resulted in a base hit and a runner advanced to second base. Sweatt countered this sequence by striking out the next batter, and the fourth batter hit a pop out, but the bases were still loaded after the fifth batter was walked. The Chiefs were not able to capitalize after a pop out on the sixth at bat.

The bottom of the second inning started with a fly out by White, but Mizzell and senior Hayes Heinecke both walked, leaving one runner in scoring position at second base. Lawson took advantage by getting a base hit, driving in the runner at second in the process. The side was retired after a deep fly out by Sweatt. At the end of the second inning, the Panthers held a 1-0 lead over the Chiefs.

Lilly Carter
Starr’s Mill player rounds first base. The Panthers had almost no trouble getting on base, with six hits in the game.

“We hit when we needed to,” Sweatt said. “This game, we got some runs across.”

The third inning started with a McIntosh base hit after an error, but the infield rebounded by turning a double play. Sweatt followed by striking out the next batter to get the third out.

Senior Jake Blinstrub led off the bottom of the third inning with a fly out, and Gardner followed by striking out on the next at bat. However, both Port and Sutton were walked. Despite having a runner in scoring position, Starr’s Mill was unable to capitalize, with White striking out and ending the third inning.

“We need to swing better,” Sweatt said. “We have to dig deep and swing.”

The Panthers continued their great defense with Sweatt striking out his first batter, and two flyouts quickly retired the side.

The bottom of the fourth inning began with a Mizzell single, followed by a Heinecke bunt and base hit. Lawson also followed up with a base hit, bringing in his second RBI in the process. A Sweatt flyout temporarily slowed Starr’s Mill down, but Blinstrub’s bunt and base hit resulted in another run. After this sequence, a Panther runner was caught stealing and was tagged out at third. Gardner hit a deep flyout which retired the side. At the end of the fourth inning, the Panthers were up 3-0 over the Chiefs.

“We’re starting to hit the ball better,” Lawson said. “We’re also pitching really well right now.”

The top of the fifth inning was another quick three up, three down. The first batter was thrown out at first, Sweatt struck out his second batter, and a flyout on the third at bat put a swift end to the first half of the inning.

The bottom of the third inning was uneventful for the Mill. Three flyouts by Port, Sutton, and freshman Thad Ector quickly closed the fifth inning with no hits and no runs.

“We’ve got to hit better,” head coach Brent Moseley said. “That’s what’s holding us back right now.”

The Panthers continued their stifling defense in the sixth inning, opening with a flyout and a ground out on the first two at bats. One runner got on base after being hit by a pitch, but Sweatt recovered by striking out the next batter for the third out.

Mizzell led off the bottom of the sixth inning with a ground out at first, but Heinecke cleaned up by hitting a deep line drive, resulting in a double. Freshman Daniel Courtney was not able to advance Heinecke as he was thrown out at first. Sweatt was walked, which set up Blinstrub with an RBI opportunity. However, the Panthers were left empty handed after a flyout.

To start the top of the seventh inning, Sweatt struck out the first, but after walking the next batter, he was replaced by Sutton, ending the night with only one allowed hit and no runs. McIntosh tried to take advantage of the substitution with a base hit, but the leading runner was thrown out at second base. Another base hit advanced a runner to third, but a strikeout by Sutton iced the game, giving Starr’s Mill a 3-0 win and a 2-1 series victory.

“As long as we keep pitching the way we are, we’re going to keep winning games,” Moseley said.

Since the win, the Panthers have added two more dominant region wins over Riverdale 16-0 and 15-0.  The team also traveled to Pike County and lost a close one 4-3.

Panther baseball finishes up the series against Riverdale tonight before preparing for another three-game region battle next week against Griffin.