Panthers hold lead late, defeat Borden
Corydon Central put together a four-run sixth-inning Monday to pad its lead before eventually holding off a late charge from visiting Borden for a 6-4 win in the season opener.
‘We played pretty well, especially with a couple guys that didn’t play because they just returned from spring break,’ said assistant coach Kevin Burton. ‘We’ll take the win and move on to the next one.’
Burton filled in for head coach Zach Sipes, who left about an hour before the first pitch to be with his wife for the birth of their child.
Mitch Akers picked up the win on the hill for the Panthers, striking out seven in four innings of work. Andrew Yeager closed the game out, pitching the final three innings.
‘All in all, pitching was pretty good,’ Burton said. ‘We tried throwing inside to open up the outer third but went a little too inside a couple times. I thought Mitch’s fastball was pretty good today.’
Akers did hit three batters but gave up his lone run in the first inning. Ethan Little eventually scored after hitting a leadoff single. After back-to-back strikeouts, Jared Sanders plated Little with a hit to left.
Corydon Central rallied back quickly with two runs in the bottom half. Ethan Wright kick-started the frame when he reached safely on a bunt single. Chase Burton reached on a single, then, with Tyler Shewmaker up to bat, Wright crossed the plate on a Kyle Kruer wild pitch.
Following a Shewmaker walk, the Panthers went ahead 2-1 when Akers hit a run-scoring single.
Borden put a runner in scoring position with one out in the third inning but was unable to score.
Yeager faced trouble in the sixth inning when the Braves loaded the bases with one out. Sam Beckort’s double was followed by a hit batter and a walk. Pitching out of the jam, Yeager recorded the next two outs: a line drive out to shortstop and a ground out.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Panthers solved Kruer on the hill and plated four runs.
Wright led the inning off with his second single and later moved up a base by swiping second. After Yeager struck out, Chase Burton and Shewmaker reached base on a hit by pitch and walk, respectively. Wright eventually scored on another Borden wild pitch.
Borden picked up the second out of the inning when Akers flew out to deep center field, advancing Burton to third base.
Aaron Arnold came up with the key hit, belting a shot down the left-field line, plating two runs. Arnold eventually came around to score when Jon Smith roped a single to left.
‘We manufactured a little bit and were able to move some runners over,’ coach Burton said. ‘Zach has been preaching all during practice to get something out of an at-bat with runners on. Even long fly balls have a purpose. That happened today. It moved guys over.’
Things turned interesting in the top of the seventh when Corydon Central’s 6-1 lead dwindled to two runs. Singles by Garrett Vick and Beckort, along with a few fielding errors by the Panthers allowed the Braves to score three runs.
The Panthers escaped the inning when Tyler Pace grounded to second baseman Dalton Arnold for the final out.
Burton said he was pleased with the team’s performance but also pointed out a few things they need to work on.
‘Base running was a disappointment,’ he said. ‘We had some guys make some blunders around the bases. Some ran through stop signs, taking chances. You like the effort because they are making something happen, but, in a one-run game, you want to be a little more reserve.’
Wright and Akers finished with two hits each for Corydon Central, with Wright scoring twice. Burton also had two runs.
The Panthers will hit the field Saturday when they host Henryville at 11 a.m.