Panthers prevail over Tigers in second round double-header

Starr%E2%80%99s+Mill+player+throws+a+pitch+during+game+one.+Starr%E2%80%99s+Mill+gave+up+just+one+run+to+the+Tigers+through+both+games%2C+relying+on+their+defensive+strength+to+propel+them+into+the+third+round+of+the+state+playoffs.
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Panthers prevail over Tigers in second round double-header

Starr’s Mill player throws a pitch during game one. Starr’s Mill gave up just one run to the Tigers through both games, relying on their defensive strength to propel them into the third round of the state playoffs.

Starr’s Mill player throws a pitch during game one. Starr’s Mill gave up just one run to the Tigers through both games, relying on their defensive strength to propel them into the third round of the state playoffs.

Shelby Foster

Starr’s Mill player throws a pitch during game one. Starr’s Mill gave up just one run to the Tigers through both games, relying on their defensive strength to propel them into the third round of the state playoffs.

Shelby Foster

Shelby Foster

Starr’s Mill player throws a pitch during game one. Starr’s Mill gave up just one run to the Tigers through both games, relying on their defensive strength to propel them into the third round of the state playoffs.

John Webb, Sports co-Editor

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Following a first round victory over the Union Grove Wolverines, the Starr’s Mill varsity baseball team hosted the Harris County Tigers for a second round matchup in the AAAAA state playoffs.

Starr’s Mill swept the series in two quick games on Thursday night. Bolstered by a strong defensive stand in both games as well as a solid performance from the Panther starting pitchers, Starr’s Mill propelled themselves into the third round of the playoffs.

Shelby Foster
Panther third baseman throws a runner out from third. The Mill’s defense was stout throughout the series as both starting pitchers had their best performances of the season.

The first game began with the visiting Tigers up to bat. Allowing only one hit to shallow right field, the Panthers quickly closed out the Harris County offense behind a strong start pitching from senior Hayes Heineke. The Panthers’ first turn at the plate ended similarly, as only senior Charlie Mizzell reached base due to a dead ball.

The next action came after an inning of three up, three down for both teams. In the third inning, with two outs and a runner on second base, the Tigers drove in their first run of the series off of a grounder through the gap.

“I think their pitchers did a good job of pitching us backwards and throwing their off speed for strikes,” head coach Brent Moseley said.

The Panthers were quick to respond with a run of their own. With one out and a runner at second following a left field double by freshman Nathan Kearns, freshman Thad Ector hit a RBI double that drove in one run and tied the game at 1-1.

Harris County again struggled at the plate in the top of the fourth inning, going three up, three down for the second time in the game. Starr’s Mill capitalized on the poor hitting from the Tigers, and with two outs and senior Mitchell Sutton on second, senior Dawson Sweatt hit a shallow fly ball to center field that dropped just short of the Harris County outfielder and drove in Sutton to place the Panthers ahead 2-1.

“We knew we could handle them defensively,” Mizzell said. “Our focus was making contact with the ball and trying to drive in a couple of runs.”

The top of the fifth inning produced another round of three straight outs for Harris County’s ineffective offense, but the Tigers would make it through the fifth without giving up another run as the Panthers hit into a double play that was followed by a line out by Mizzell.

With no more runs in the final two innings as well as only two hits combined for both teams, the first game ended with a score of 2-1 in favor of Starr’s Mill.

After a quick break for the teams, the second game of the double header began, this time with the Panthers hitting first as the visiting team.  

I think both Hayes and Dawson were as good as I’ve ever seen them.”

— head coach Brent Moseley

“It is tough to play two games back to back,” senior Michael Norton said. “We just try to stay loose and keep our heads in the game.”

The opening half inning ended abruptly as Starr’s Mill struck out once and hit two fly balls that both ended up as outs.

Senior Dawson Sweatt started the game on the mound for the Panthers, and although the first batter he faced reached first off of a hit to center field, the next at bat ended with a double play grounder to junior shortstop Brian Port who cleared the bases and gave the Panthers two outs. The inning ended with a ground out to senior third baseman Mitchell Sutton.

In the second inning neither team found any success hitting the ball. After the Panthers were retired in just four at bats, the Tigers were struck out three straight times by Sweatt.

“I think both Hayes and Dawson were as good as I’ve ever seen them,” Moseley said. “We made all the routine plays behind them.”

Starr’s Mill could not bounce back from the previous inning, and in the top of the third, the Panthers continued the series trend of going three up, three down. The Tigers also continued to find little success hitting, as they had one runner reach base, and the side was retired after just four batters.

Shelby Foster
Starr’s Mill batter crosses home plate after a solo home run. The home run would be the only run scored in game two, giving Starr’s Mill the series victory.

After the fourth inning saw no hits for either team and only seven batters combined, Starr’s Mill finally took the lead off of a solo home run by Sutton in the top of the fifth. This would be the Mill’s only run of the game, as a strikeout, sacrifice bunt, and groundout retired the side. Harris County began their appearances at the plate by reaching first following an error, but the Tigers were dominated by Sweatt, who struck out three straight batters for the second time in the game.

The remaining two innings of the game consisted of more of the same, as no runs would be scored by either team and the Panthers would have two total base runners while the Tigers had only one due to a dead ball in the bottom of the seventh. Starr’s Mill closed out the game as well as the second round series with a 1-0 victory.

The third round of the AAAAA state playoffs will be held May 9 at Carrollton High School. If a tie breaker is necessary, a third game would take place May 10.

“We are facing a very athletic team who has a couple of good pitchers so it’s going to be tough,” Moseley said.

The Carrollton Trojans are currently 28-8 overall, with a solid home record of 14-2.

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