Panthers move on to regional quarterfinals
By JOSEPH ELERSON | News-Telegram Sports Writer
May 14, 2007 - GILMER - With the North Hopkins Panthers up 4-1 heading into the top of the sixth inning Saturday afternoon, the weather decided to extend the area round series against the Overton Mustangs.
Both teams sat through a 52-minute lightning delay, and in the end North Hopkins advanced with a 5-1 win to face the Maud Cardinals in the Class A, Region III quarterfinals this week.
"We had times where we made some base-running mistakes and then some times where we didn't do everything in the field that we had to," said NH head coach Brian Bymaster. "When it came down to making the plays when we had to, we made the fundamental plays and that is what wins the games."
In the first inning, Overton scored its only run as Adam Dubose led off the inning with a single and came around to score on a double to left field by Chris Harmon.
NH ace Bradley Ball only allowed two more runners past first base and threw a complete game, striking out four and allowing five hits and four walks - two of them intentional to Telvin Darden as he received four intentional walks in the two games.
"They started hitting him (Ball) but we had defense behind him and we made at least two double plays in the game," Bymaster said. "When you can have two double plays and get out of some big innings and keep them off of the bases playing sound fundamental ball, then you are going to win some ball games."
The Panthers took the lead in the top of the second inning as Joe Smiddy led off the inning with a single and A.D. Ramirez laid down a sacrifice bunt to send him to second. Lorenzo Rivera then rapped a single to right field and on a double steal, Smiddy tied the game.
After a wild pitch by Garrett Williamson, Dillon Mitchell hit a long fly ball that was misplayed by the right fielder, allowing Rivera to score for the 2-1 lead.
With thunder in the background, NH scored two more runs in the top of the fifth inning on a two-run single by Smiddy, scoring second baseman Dillon Mitchell and Dustin Clements for the 4-1 lead.
Following the lightning delay, the Panthers padded their lead with a run in the top of the sixth inning as Ramirez led off the inning with a single and with one out, Stephen Crocker hit an RBI single to left field scoring Ramirez for the 5-1 lead.
The Panthers committed two errors and capitalized on two double plays in the Game 2 win.
"I don't think we had that many errors," the coach said. "When you can keep your walks and errors down, then you are going to win ball games and that is what happened."
Bymaster said NH and Maud will play a best-2-out-of-3 series, and he feels good about how the two teams match up in this series.
"I think we are evenly matched," he said. "They are pretty young and they hit the ball well and don't make many mistakes in the field. We are going to have to play pretty solid, and I don't think they are overpowering. I think he has several different pitchers, and we will go out and see how everything pans out."