State Championship Finals: Panthers – 4 Savannah Hurricanes – 0
The Panthers advanced to their third straight state Home School baseball championship, besting the Low Country Wildcats by a score of 15-0 in one semi-final. The Savannah Hurricanes advanced by beating the Upstate Eagles in the other semi-final. This was the third different team that PAC has faced in the finals (Anderson Cavaliers in 2015 and Upstate Eagles in 2016) as they were looking for their third straight championship.
Savannah was the visiting team so they got to try and dent the scoreboard first, and in hindsight, this was their best chance to score against the Panthers. Their leadoff hitter, Baker Collins, singled to right field and Austin Cobb followed with a single to left field putting runners at first and second with no outs. Their next hitter flew out to center field and then James Reed, the Panther’s starting pitcher, struck out the next two hitters to close out the top of the first. In the bottom of the first, James and Cal Hucks both singled but were stranded at third and second respectively.
Both teams went quietly in the second inning and the Hurricanes were retired in order in the top of the third inning; partially thanks to a leaping catch of a liner off of the bat of Baker Collins by Avery Blevins at second. In the bottom of the frame, the Panthers finally broke through. William Lawyer was walked to begin the inning and advanced to second on a wild pitch. John Edens followed with a single between third and short. The Hurricane third baseman made a great diving stop but his throw to first skipped by the first baseman and into the Panther dugout. This allowed William to score and send John to second. James Reed then doubled with one out to score John from second. James scored on a single by Danny Waller and the Panthers led 3-0 after three innings.
Both teams were retired in order in the fourth inning and the Hurricanes had the same fate in the top of the fifth but the Panthers managed to add one to their lead in the bottom of that inning. James Reed had his third hit of the game and advanced to second on Cal Huck’s second single. A third straight single, this one by Danny Waller, scored James from second extending the Panther’s lead to 4-0.
In the top of the sixth inning, the first two Hurricane batters grounded out to Avery Blevins at second base. After Austin Cobb singled, Ryan Osako popped up to the Panther pitcher, James Reed, to end the top half of the inning. At the break, the umpires held a conference and decided to end the game due to darkness. The lights on the field where the championships were being held were struck by lightning earlier in the week and one whole bank of lights behind home plate had not yet been repaired and player safety was quickly becoming an issue. And just like that, the Panthers were state champions for the third year in a row.
The Panthers outhit the Hurricanes eight to four. James Reed and three singles and scored twice. Danny Waller had two hits with two RBI’s. Cal Hucks also singled twice and John Edens had the other hit for PAC.
James Reed threw a complete game for the Panthers. He allowed four hits while striking out seven Hurricane batters. He did not walk a batter in improving his record to 4-0.
James Reed and Cal Hucks were named players of the game and Danny Waller was named MVP of the tournament. The two victories improved the Panthers record to 20-8.
The Panthers leave for the National Association of Christian Athletes baseball tournament in Dayton, Tennessee on Tuesday to close out their season.