Panther Baseball Wins State Championship

Panthers (Varsity) – 8                    Anderson Cavaliers – 5

The Panthers won their first state championship Friday night besting the Anderson Cavaliers on their home field by a score of 8-5.  The Panthers had reached the championship game after beating the Low Country Wildcats and the Cavaliers had advanced by beating the Easley Guardians.  The game started quietly with neither team scoring nor really threatening over the first two innings.  The Panthers took the lead in the top of the third inning when they scratched for three runs.  Cole Plyler drew a walk with one out.  Eli Williams singled advancing Cole to third (Eli advance to second when the Cavalier center fielder bobbled his hit).  Anderson Blevins laid down a beautiful suicide squeeze bunt to score Cole from third for the first run of the game and advance Eli to third.  Pat Brunson reached on an error by the Cavalier third baseman which allowed Eli to score and Pat to advance to second.  James Reed then doubled to deep left center field scoring Pat from second.  Neither team scored in the fourth inning although both teams threatened; both teams leaving the bases loaded.  The Cavaliers escaped by pulling a 1-2-3 (pitcher-catcher-first baseman) double play on a grounder back to the pitcher by Eli Williams.  The Panthers escaped on a groundout to Cole at second base.  The Panthers clawed for another run in the top of the fifth inning.  Pat walked and advanced to second on a James Reed’s second hit of the game.  A single by Carson Floyd scored Pat from second and gave the Panthers a 4-0 lead.  The Cavaliers plated their first two runs of the game in the bottom of the fifth.  Two singles and a walk loaded the bases with no outs.  The fourth batter hit a grounder up the middle that Anderson fielded and stepped on second for one out.  As he stepped on second, he jumped in the air to avoid a hard charging Cavalier and attempted to throw to first to complete the double play but the throw got away from him and went to the first base side fence.  John Edens, the Panther first baseman, retrieved the ball and, in a heads up play, tagged the Cavalier batter who had crossed first and made a slight move towards second base.  The umpire called the batter out amid howls of protest from the Cavalier bench and fans.  The Cavalier coaches argued the call but after both umpires huddled to discuss the situation, the call stood.  On the play, the Cavalier on third scored easily and the Cavalier on second scored when Anderson’s throw went to the fence.  The Cavaliers scored two runs on the play; however, now the bases were clear of Cavalier runners effectively ending their scoring threat.  After five innings the score was 4-2 Panthers.  The Panthers did not score in the top of the sixth and the Cavaliers took advantage by scoring three runs to take a late lead.  The inning started innocently enough for the Panthers with two strikeouts sandwiched around a walk.  The next batter hit a grounder to third which should have ended the inning but the Panthers made a bad throw and one run scored.  The next batter hit a grounder to second which should have ended the inning but the Panthers misplayed the ball and the Cavaliers were in business with runners on second and third and the top of their line-up coming up to bat.  Their leadoff hitter stroked a single to center field scoring their second run of the inning and putting runners on first and third.  At this point, the starting pitcher for PAC, James Reed, had thrown over one hundred pitches so the coaches pulled James from the mound and put in Daniel Reed, his brother, to try and get the Panthers out of the inning.  The first batter he faced stroked a single to right field scoring the Cavaliers third run of the innings and putting runners on first and second.  The second batter he faced smoked a line drive that appeared to be destined for left field but Anderson speared the ball with his glove finally ending the inning but the damage had been done.  The Panthers went into the last inning trailing for the first time in the game as they trailed by one run.  Pat grounded out to short for the first out of the inning and the noises coming from the Cavalier sideline indicated they thought the game was over but the Panthers continued to fight as they have all year.  James Reed drew a one out walk.  Clay Dickinson hit an infield single which advanced James all the way to third.  Clay stole second putting two runners in scoring position for the Panthers.  The Cavaliers, perhaps thinking about their successful double play with the bases loaded earlier in the game, gave an intentional pass to Carson Floyd to load the bases with one out.  John Edens came to the plate and stroked a clutch double down the right field line to score two runs, giving the Panthers a one run lead.  The Cavaliers gave an intentional pass to Daniel Reed to re-load the bases and try to set up the double play once again; however, Cole Plyler worked the Cavalier pitcher for an unintentional walk to score Carson from third and leave the bases loaded.  Eli came up to the plated and hit a grounder up the middle that got passed the pitcher but was fielded by the shortstop who threw Eli out at first.  This made the score 8-5 Panthers and put runners on second and third.  The Cavaliers then intentionally walked Anderson Blevins to set up a force out at every base.  The Cavaliers finally got out of the inning when Pat grounded out to the Cavalier third baseman.  The Panthers made another pitching change, bringing in Carson Floyd to try and save the game.  The first Cavalier batter reached on an error giving life to the Cavalier faithful.  Carson was unruffled by this bad start, however, and struck out the next Cavalier batter.  The third batter he faced flew out to Pat in center field.  Carson walked the fourth batter of the inning putting runners on first and second and bringing the potentially tying run to the plate.  After getting ahead of the batter, Carson finally induced a game ending ground out to James Reed who was playing first base and the Panthers were State Champions!  The Panthers outhit the Cavaliers by 8-5 but allowed the Cavaliers to remain in the game by committing an uncharacteristic seven errors.  James Reed had a double and a single, one RBI and scored a run.  John Edens had two hits; a single and the clutch double in the seventh inning.  He had two RBI’s and also scored a run.  Others with hits included Clay Dickinson, Eli Williams, Daniel Reed and Carson Floyd.  Pat Brunson scored two runs.  The Panthers had twenty-two productive at bats for the game.  James Reed was the starting pitcher for PAC.  He went five and two thirds innings allowing five runs only two of which were earned.  He allowed four hits, struck out five Cavalier batters and walked four.  He was replaced by Daniel Reed who pitched one third of an inning.  He gave up one hit but no runs.  Carson Floyd earned the pitching victory pitching the final inning.  He did not allow a hit or run.  He had one strikeout and one walk. After the game, tournament and All-Conference awards were handed out.  James Reed was named the tournament MVP for his performance in the championship game.  Also named to the all-tournament team were Pat Brunson, John Edens and Trevor Dacus.  The Panthers were represented very well on the All-Conference teams.  Here is the list of Panthers awarded this honor:

First Team: Anderson Blevins (shortstop); Clay Dickinson (third baseman); Pat Brunson (center fielder); Carson Floyd (left fielder); James Reed (relief pitcher and catcher).

Second Team:  John Edens (right fielder) and Trevor Dacus (starting pitcher and first baseman)

The Panther varsity squad leaves for Tennessee on Tuesday morning to participate in a season ending tournament in Dayton, Tennessee, hosted by the National Association of Christian Athletes (NACA).