Sports

Panthers drop wild one to Burlington

Future Southeast Conference member clips Mt. Pleasant 5-4 at Mapleleaf

GTNS photo by Andy Krutsinger

Bryce Anderson hurls a pitch to the plate in the fourth inning.
GTNS photo by Andy Krutsinger Bryce Anderson hurls a pitch to the plate in the fourth inning.
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It was a wacky one at Mapleleaf Athletic Complex on Tuesday night. In the final nonconference game between the two teams before Burlington joins the league next season, the Grayhounds pulled out a 5-4 win over the hosting Panthers.

Mt. Pleasant had a slow start, giving up four runs over the first three innings. Burlington’s Tyson Powers opened the scoring with an RBI double in the first inning. The Grayhounds scored two in the first, one in the second and one in the third to grab a 4-0 advantage.

Mt. Pleasant had just three hits in the first four innings, and they were all on infield hits. The Panthers couldn’t get on the board until the bottom of the fifth.

“We just took too long to get going,” head coach Brent Broeker said. “In the first four innings, we didn’t hit the ball out of the infield. Then later in the fifth, sixth and seventh, we started squaring up some balls and knocking it around a little bit, but we’ve just got to do a better job of getting on pitchers earlier.”

Mt. Pleasant’s biggest threat in the first four innings was a squandared opportunity in the third inning. The Panthers tried a double-steal with runners on the corners and two outs. Jaxon Hoyle was thrown out at home on the play, and an ugly collision lead to Hoyle being ejected. He will be unavailable for the next two games.

Nik Coble reached on a one-out error in the fifth inning, and Clayton Lowery sent him in with an RBI double. Lowery was stranded on third base, but it the Grayhound lead was cut down to 4-1.

Things got interesting in the sixth. Trace White and Bryce Anderson each got on with nobody out. The next two batters were retired, but Corbin Broeker walked to load the bases with two down.

Nik Coble came to the plate in a big situation. He bounced one over the second-basemen’s head, and the ball died in front of the center fielder, allowing all three runs to come around and score to tie the game at 4-4.

Coble nearly came around to score on a dropped fly ball in center field off the bat of Lowery. He rounded third hard and came home, but Burlington’s Reese Wissinger nailed Coble at home to keep the game tied.

The Grayhounds scored the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly by Powers in the top of the seventh. That gave Burlington a 5-4 lead going in to the final half-inning.

Will Edeker, who replaced Hoyle in the third, led off the seventh with a bloop single to left field. Chase Lamm flew out to shallow center field and White was out on a hard line drive to left field. After a bloop single by Anderson, Brennen Bender sent a long fly ball to left center, but the ball was caught for the third out, ending the Panther threat.

“It was just one of those crazy games,” Coach Broeker said after the loss. “They had some breaks, we ended up getting that break (on Coble’s hit) and it ended up being a pretty good ballgame, but it would have been nice if we came out on top.”

Coble finished the game 2-4 with three RBIs to lead the team. Lowery was 1-4 with a double and an RBI, and Broeker, Anderson and Bender all finished with one hit.

Coble started the game and gave up four runs (two earned) on two hits and five walks over three innings. He struck out three batters. Anderson relieved Coble and gave up one earned run on three hits and no walks over three innings. Anderson struck out two. Broeker gave up two hits but no runs in one inning of work.

Mt. Pleasant fell to 18-9 on the season. They’ll play Knoxville on Thursday, July 11, in their final two home games. Burlington is now 4-1 against SEC teams this year with a game at Washington next week. After the loss, Coach Broeker talked about what the Grayhounds will bring to the SEC.

“They’ll make things interesting,” Broeker said. “It’s every day, you’re going to have to come and play. If you’ve got Fairfield Monday and Burlington Thursday, that’s going to make it tough for pitching.”