PORSTMOUTH- The Clay Panthers pulled out a dandy of a game Friday evening when they defeated the Eastern Eagles by a final score of 7-6.
Clay took a 3-run lead into the top of the seventh when problems arose for the Panthers. Pitcher Keith Cottle started to run out of gas after pitching a solid six innings. A base hit to start the inning led to more trouble. A run would come home on a double from Clay Martin. Trent Pollack would sacrifice a run over, another would reach on an error Austin Perry would finish the late game rally for the Eagles with another RBI double.
“We had in won in the seventh, but an error or two really cost us,” admitted Clay Head Coach Marc Cottle. “Keith pitched well all night but you could tell he got a bit tired at the end. We are down our number there pitcher so I kept him in a little longer than I normally would.”
Now down a run, 6-5 in the bottom of the 9th, the Panthers would come try to piece together at least another run to keep the game alive. An RBI single was knocked in by Brandon Queen to tie the game. The Panthers would then load the bases.
But they couldn’t take advantage. The game was going to extra innings.
With another opportunity, the Panthers grabbed their bats. They would once again load the bases, but this time with no outs. Eagles Pitcher Ethen Green struck out the first batter, but gave up the game winning walk to the very next batter.
“We’ve been coming out of the gate slow,” said Eastern Head Coach Eric Horton. “We were down three in the seventh and fought and scratched and clawed to get back in it and took a lead into the bottom of the inning. With our youth and inexperience we aren’t figuring out a way to finish games off. We let it slip through our fingers like we have a few other times so far this year.
“A lot of it is our youth. But the outlook is still very positive. We love to put pressure on teams when we get on base, but Clay is very well coached and makes very few mistakes in the field. There was a play at the plate earlier in the game where the left fielder just made a fantastic throw to get our guy out. Give us that run and the game changes.”
Clay is now 2-2 on the season. They swept the series with Eastern but now look to a very difficult portion of their schedule.
“It was a great team win,” said Cottle. “We persevered, we came back and we battled. I can’t say enough about our kids. They hit well, Keith pitched well and Devan came in and shut the door. We play Notre Dame twice next week, South Webster and Green. So we have to come back and play some more good baseball.”
Clay 200 030 11 — 7 9 3
Eastern 010 010 40 — 6 9 1
Clay: Cottle 1-4 (3B, BB), Holcomb 2-4 (BB, SB), Riffe 1-4 (2B, BB, SB), Hempill 2-2 (3 BB, SB), Gilliland 2-4 (3B, 3 RBIs), Queen 1-2 (BB, RBI), McCleese 0-2 (RBI),
Eastern: Martin 2-3 (2B, RBI), Pollock 1-2 (2 RBIs, SB), Perry 1-4 (2B, RBI), Clemmons 2-3 (RBI, BB), Hesson 1-3 (BB), Wells 1-3, Tomlison 1-2 (2 BB)
W- Holcomb 1 IP
L- Hesson 2 1/3 IP 2 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 1 K