Panthers avenge game one loss, take region lead


Annika Pepper

Senior Ryan Henderson takes a swing at the plate. Panther hitting, despite a slow start, was a key factor in the comeback 8-7 victory. Henderson and senior Brian Port had three hits each.

Ben Barkley, Staff Writer

After losing 7-0 to the McIntosh Chiefs in game one of the three game series, the Starr’s Mill baseball team came into their game two matchup on Thursday looking to stay in the hunt for the region championship. Despite a slow start, the team found their stride in the middle of the game with solid hitting and field play to give them an 8-7 victory.

Everybody contributed to this win…It was crazy to see it all work out in the end.”

— senior Brian Port

“This game was exciting,” head coach Brent Moseley said. “We had to do a lot of juggling, but it was fun.”

The Panther offense was led by seniors Ryan Henderson, who went 3-4 with two singles, a double, and two runs scored, and Brian Port, who scored two runs and led off the bottom of the fourth inning with a triple. Sophomore Sean White went 3-4 with two singles and an RBI double.

The Chiefs also had many top performers. Senior Andrew Pinckney blasted a two-run homerun in the third, and junior Jack Brown went 2-3 with four RBIs, a double, and a two-run homerun. McIntosh was also good on the mound, as sophomore Braxton Roop recorded four strikeouts before being taken out in the fourth inning.

“Everybody contributed to this win,” Port said. “It was crazy to see it all work out in the end.”

The game started slow for both teams, as Roop and Panther sophomore pitcher Daniel Courtney kept both teams off the board throughout the first two innings.

Courtney struck out the next two batters to begin the third inning. However, after he walked senior Jack Bukowski, Pinckney hit a two-run homerun to center field to give the Chiefs a quick 2-0 lead.

Annika Pepper
Sophomore Daniel Courtney throws a pitch toward a McIntosh batter. Courtney pitched three and two thirds innings, allowing six hits, four earned runs, and six strikeouts. The Panthers used five different pitchers including Courtney.

“Even though we’re young, we’ve been working hard,” sophomore Chay Yeager said. “We still have a good work ethic regardless if we win or lose.”

In the fourth inning, junior Hunter Lawson replaced Courtney, but the Chiefs continued to score runs . Brown drove in two runs to record an RBI double and give the Chiefs a 4-0 lead at the end of their half of the fourth inning.

However, the Panthers started to generate offense in their half of the inning, as Port led off the inning with a triple. This set up Henderson’s RBI single to put the Mill on the board 4-1. The scoring did not stop, as White and Yeager each put up RBI singles to end the inning down one.

“It was a big win,” Port said. “We want to win the series because it will eventually lead to us winning the region championship.”

The top of the fifth saw two straight base hits by McIntosh, and Lawson exiting the mound. Senior Andrew Fry replaced him, but the Chiefs scored yet again off a failed pickoff attempt by the Panther defense. Fry ended the top half of the inning with a strikeout to keep the score 5-3 in favor of McIntosh.

The Chiefs brought in a new pitcher in sophomore Ryder Wagenknecht, but the Panthers started the inning strong. Port was walked, and Henderson hit a double to put the runners on second and third base. A balk by Wagenknecht brought Port home to decrease the McIntosh lead to 5-4. On the next pitch, White hit an RBI single to tie the game at five. The Chiefs then brought in junior pitcher Landon Pope, who finished off the inning.

“We’re still making mistakes that we shouldn’t be making,” Moseley said. “The pressure situations sometimes get to them because they’re so young.”

[T]he Panthers started to generate offense in their half of the inning, as Port led off the inning with a triple.”

— Staff Writer Ben Barkley

After junior Andrew Villiger was walked to begin the sixth inning, the Mill brought in sophomore Declan Dunn, its fourth pitcher of the game. However, two pitches in, Brown hit a two-run homerun to regain the lead 7-5. Despite the homerun, Dunn settled down and closed out the inning with no hits.

The Panthers started their half of the inning off with three straight hits, as Port, Henderson, and junior Beau Gardner loaded the bases early. Pinckney left center field to take the mound after that. Three pitches in, White hit a two-RBI single to tie the game once again at seven.

“We need to score more runs early in the game,” Port said. “We also need to keep on making routine plays.”

Gardner replaced Dunn on the mound to begin the seventh after Dunn walked Pinckney in four pitches. Gardner held the McIntosh offense to very little, recording two pop flyouts and a strikeout to keep the score tied heading into the bottom half of the final inning.

The Panthers continued to generate offense, as sophomore Eli Jones was hit by a pitch and Yeager was walked. Sophomore Thad Ector then hit a sacrifice bunt for a single, but Jones was thrown out at third base.With runners on first and third, and Gardner at the plate, Pinckney threw a wild pitch. This allowed Yeager to steal home, giving the team an 8-7 victory.

The win tied the series at a game apiece. The series win marks their third straight against the Chiefs.  

“It was a 50-50 chance of him putting the bunt down,” Yeager said. “Luckily, the catcher missed the ball, and I was able to get home.”

Starr’s Mill completed the series on March 22 with a 3-2 win, winning the series 2-1. The Panthers (15-3, 8-1) look to keep their region lead as they head into another three-game series with the Griffin Bears ( 5-13, 4-4). The games are on March 26 (home), March 28 (away), and March 29 (home).