Coming off a one-run loss and another in extra innings, Petal faced what Panther head coach Larry Watkins calls a “scrappy” Brookhaven team Tuesday night. Despite committing six errors, Watkins’ Panthers got a much-needed, bounce-back win, 8-4.
Petal improved to 6-3 with the victory.
“It wasn’t easy for sure. I didn’t think we played our best, but we played enough to win,” Watkins said. “We’ll have to eliminate some of those errors. We’ve played great defense all year. Just had a tough night tonight.
“It was good for us to get a win tonight.”
Hunter Dykes got the start on the mound for Petal. After a scoreless first two innings, the Jones County Junior College signee gave himself some run support in the third with a sacrifice-fly.
In the fourth, Brookhaven tied it up at one. That would be the only run they scored in Dykes’ five innings of work. He finished with three strikeouts.
“He’s tough. A competitor,” Watkins said of Dykes. “Should have got out of some innings, but we didn’t make some plays behind him.”
With Dykes still on the mound, Petal began to pull away in their half of the fourth inning when Nicholas Russell came home on a balk and Dylan Pylant added an RBI single. In the fifth, the Panthers kept piling it on, adding three more runs via a Brookhaven fielding error and a Matt Mercer two-run single. Through five innings, Petal led 6-1.
“We really got some big hits as the game went on,” Watkins said.
Brookhaven made a last-ditch effort in the sixth inning, plating three runs to pull within two. In retrospect, it could have been more, as they left the bases loaded. Petal freshman Garrett Barger took the mound and got an inning-ending out to preserve the Panthers’ lead.
“He’s been good for us all year,” Watkins said of Barger. “For a freshman, he’s really poised. He comes in, and it doesn’t seem like it bothers him. That’s a great sign for a young kid like that.”
Petal added a pair of insurance runs in the sixth inning off hits from Colton Rainey and Tyler Dobson.
Barger stayed on in the seventh and got the final three outs in picking up the save.
Weather-permitting, the Panthers will be back in action this Friday at Seminary.