Panthers close the regular season with 8-7 win over Harris County

Panther+sprints+to+home+base+to+pick+up+the+fourth+run+of+the+night.+%E2%80%9CThis+game+was+a+good+confidence+booster+and+we+needed+to+play+because+we+would%E2%80%99ve+been+off+for+two+weeks%2C%E2%80%9D++Moseley+said.+%E2%80%9CI+feel+good+about+our+pitching+and+I+think+we%E2%80%99re+ready+to+go+for+playoffs.%E2%80%9D

Katie Linkner

Panther sprints to home base to pick up the fourth run of the night. “This game was a good confidence booster and we needed to play because we would’ve been off for two weeks,” Moseley said. “I feel good about our pitching and I think we’re ready to go for playoffs.”

Ryan Allen, Staff Writer

The Starr’s Mill baseball team defeated Harris County 8-7 in an intense back and forth game. This game improved the overall record of the season to 20-8 and the region record 17-1.

The Panthers were hot off their series win against the Fayette County Tigers winning the series 3-0. Starr’s Mill went into the game against Harris County trying to add another win to their streak and ride the momentum into the playoffs.

Katie Linkner
Starr’s Mill pitcher and catcher converse after Harris County loaded the bases. The Panthers finished out the regular season with an 8-7 victory over Harris County, improving their overall season record to 20-8.

Senior Hayes Heinecke started out the first inning on the mound with a strong strikeout. Senior catcher Charlie Mizzell caught a foul ball giving the Tigers two outs. The next hit was a line drive directly to an outfielder for the last out. In the bottom of the first, the Panthers didn’t score a run.

“This team was good preparation and oversight for the postseason,” Heinecke said.

In the beginning of the second inning, the first pitch was thrown to the Tigers and they capitalized with a homerun making the score 1-0. Heinecke stepped up to pitch and struck out the next three Tiger hitters, sending them back to the dugout.

Mizell countered Harris County by sending the first pitch out of the park and into the trees making it 1-1. The Mill struck out quickly ending the second inning.

“The coaches and the guys rely on me in the first couple innings to prevent them from scoring and setting the tone for the game,” Heinecke said.

At the start of the third inning, Starr’s Mill stepped up making some big plays. Senior Nathan Price made his first appearance on the mound with a forceful strikeout. On the next pitch, the Panthers retrieved the ball on first base forcing an out. Price finished out the top of the third with a clean strikeout.

Senior Jake Blinstrub started the bottom of the third with a hard first hit off the wall getting him all the way to third base. A Harris County outfielder chased after Blinstrub’s ball but didn’t realize there was a wall in front of him, which resulted in a head-on collision and an uncaught ball. Dawson Sweatt hit one down center field sending Blinstrub home and him on first base. Senior Mitchell Sutton popped one in the left field bringing Sweatt home but got out.

In the offensive third inning, junior Brian Port got to walk to first base on four balls. The next Panther hitter struck out and Port advanced to third base. Mizell layed down a sacrifice bunt to bring Port home. Panthers picked up three runs on four straight hits making the score 4-1, ending the third inning.

“This is probably the best they’ve hit all year,” head coach Brent Moseley said.

Starr’s Mill struggled at the top of the fourth giving up first, second, and third base. A key play call saved the Panthers with a double play resulting in only one run for the Tigers. Senior Michael Norton with the final strikeout ended Harris County’s offensive surge. In the bottom of the fourth, Sweatt nailed one up the left center field gap for a double. The Panthers could not capitalize leaving the score 4-2.

This is probably the best they’ve hit all year.”

— head coach Brent Moseley

Harris County started off the fifth inning strong with a player on first, second, and a homerun. The Tigers quickly took advantage of the slow start from the Panthers. Starr’s Mill shut down Harris County’s momentum with three straight outs where an outfielder caught a line drive and two first base outs. This concluded the top of the fifth inning at 4-4.

Sutton and Freshman Nathan Kearns hit two identical shots down right center field putting them on first and second. Heinecke had a quick answer for Harris County and with a deep homerun to bring Sutton and Kearns back to home plate. Plenty of offense in the fifth inning put the home team back on top 7-4.

“Charlie and I are like brothers, so if he hits one, I have to hit one,” Heinecke said.

The sixth inning was rough for both teams with six total outs and no runs. Blinstrub caught a deep right field out, and then Mizell retrieved a foul ball to close out the inning. The Panthers couldn’t get into the swing of things in the bottom of the sixth, leaving the score 7-4.

Harris County started off the seventh inning strong hitting every pitch Starr’s Mill threw at the them, resulting in two runs back-to-back. The Panthers finally found some traction with an outfield out. The Tigers loaded the bases and everything was riding on the player at bat, that hit it to second base where he got out. The Panthers threw the ball to first resulting in a double play, but Harris County picked up a run from the double play making it 7-7.

In the bottom of the seventh, Starr’s Mill needed to make a big play to end it all. Daniel Courtney made his way to third over two team hits. Freshman Thad Ector stepped up to plate with a hard hit up middlefield sending Courtney home. The walk-off single gave the Panthers a narrow 8-7 victory.

“I knew Dan was gonna score [because] he has wheels and I just wanted to end it,” Ector said.

Starr’s Mill ended the regular season with win against Harris County and now prepares for playoffs. The Mill ended the season as the No. 1 seed for Region 3-AAAAA. They face the No. 4 seed from Region 4-AAAAA Union Grove at home on April 26. First pitch in the evening’s double-header is at 4:30 p.m.