Panthers wrap up playoff berth
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

April 28, 2004 -- BIRTHRIGHT -- North Hopkins fell behind to Saltillo for the first time this season on Tuesday. But, the Panthers' Roy Warren made sure the deficit didn't last.

Warren blasted a two-run homer in the Panthers' five-run fourth inning, then added a two-run double in the sixth as North Hopkins clinched a playoff berth with an 11-6 win over the Lions.

The Panthers improved to 10-2 in district play, 14-7 overall, and will face Union Hill in the first round of the playoffs. The bi-district series is set for 5 p.m. Friday, May 7, at Paris Junior College, with a doubleheader (if necessary) on Saturday, May 8, at New Diana starting at 1 p.m.

Saltillo took a 1-0 lead in the second inning, then after NH scored three runs in the third, the Lions answered with three runs of their own in the top of the fourth to go back up, 4-3.

The Panthers then retook command of the game by scoring five runs on just two hits in the bottom of the fourth. Steven Crocker was driven home on a single by Sean Wilson, who scored on a wild pitch. Then, Micah Walker was hit by a pitch before the left-handed hitting Warren blasted a pitch from Saltillo's Colin Garmon over the rightfield fence to give NH an 8-4 lead.

Warren also had a two-run double in the sixth, driving in Jake Cockrum, who had singled, and Chad Darlin, who walked. Josh McPherson followed with an RBI single to set the final score.

"Roy Warren come up with a couple of big hits for us today, the homerun and the two-run double," North Hopkins head coach Steve Drummond said. "Micah Walker also had a big hit earlier for us. We're just glad to get out of here with a win.

"I've got to give Saltillo a lot of credit. The first two times we played Saltillo this year, we outscored them, 37-10. They came back today and played well."

The Lions took a 4-3 lead in the fourth on a big two-run double by Corrie Byrd, who later scored on a throwing error.

Saltillo scored a single run in the fifth when Garmon singled and scored on a throwing error. The Lions' rally was cut short by Cockrum at shortstop, who went up the middle to make a nice play on a grounder to get the second out of the inning.

McPherson picked up the win for the Panthers, as he pitched 2 2/3 innings in relief of Warren, who started. McPherson gave up three runs, only one of which was earned. Cockrum pitched the final 1 1/3 innings for the save.

Freshman Travis Thompson started for the Lions, pitching three innings before returning to the mound in the sixth to get the final two outs.

The Panthers have a warm-up game with Trinidad scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday at Wills Point.

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