Panthers stay unbeaten in RRC with win at West
Piedmont High went into extra innings for the first time this season and emerged victorious in a critical Rocky River Conference game at West Stanly on Saturday.
Senior Cameron Price pitched all nine innings of the 6-3 victory for the Panthers. He threw 117 pitches and improved his record to 4-1.
"Cam got stronger as the night went on," said Piedmont coach Milt Flow, who watched Price retire the last nine batters in order. "He was still strong and crisp until the end."
Piedmont extended its winning streak to 18 games, and enters the final week of the regular season with a 10-0 record in league play (18-1 overall).
UNC signee Colby Barnette went 3-for-5 and knocked in the winning run with a two-RBI single.
Catcher Cody Purser led off the top of the ninth with a double and John Elwood reached on an infield single. After Price walked to load the bases, Barnette slapped a single between first and second that plated two.
Hunter Purser followed with an RBI single to complete the scoring.
Flow admits he was concerned about playing at the third-place Colts (6-3, 9-10).
"For some reason we don't play very well up there or we play well but lose," Flow said. "This was the game we were worried about. This is a game we had to have. We were focused. We came early and hit before we went. We were ready to play."
The Colts had a chance to win the game in regulation with a runner on second base and one out in the bottom of the seventh. But center fielder Nigel Hester ran down a fly ball and Price enduced a groundout to Elwood at second that ended the inning.
The Panthers didn't commit an error.
"We played really good defense," Flow said. "Nigel making that catch was huge because if he doesn't get to that ball we lose the game right there. Our outfield is one of our strong points. All of them play good defense."
Elwood and shortstop Hunter Jones both went 2-for-4 and Hester added a double.
The Panthers finished with 10 hits.
"It was a great atmosphere," said Flow, whose team is ranked No. 2 in the state by impactbaseball.com. "Everybody comes after us, and there crowd was getting excited in the bottom of the seventh when they had a chance to win the game. Then our crowd got excited when we got out of it."
Piedmont will honor seven seniors — Barnette, Price, Elwood, Cody Purser, Hunter Purser, Jonathan Caldwell and Andrew McManus — when they host Union Academy on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
The Panthers play three times this week, including a home game against Charlotte Christian on Wednesday followed by a trip to second-place Cuthbertson (9-1, 13-4) on Friday.