In the words of first-year Panther coach Shane Kelly, “Petal got the monkey off their backs” on Friday. After four close losses to open the 2019 season, the Panthers got over the hump with a close win.
In the bottom of the seventh inning in a 1-1 ballgame, Petal’s Micah Cherry scored on a passed ball, sending the Panthers (1-4) to a walk-off victory over Long Beach, 2-1.
“We’ve been right there on the edge in all of our games,” Kelly said. “We’ve had an opportunity to win all of them. Our guys just keep fighting. We finally got that monkey off our backs, so hopefully we can get going and have a lot of good things start happening.”
Behind six-plus innings of work on the mound from starter Cole Sellers and relief appearances from Seth Bailey and Bobby Magee, the Panthers limited Long Beach to just six hits on the night.
All three hurlers struck out a Long Beach batter in the seventh inning. Magee did so for the final out of the frame with Bearcat baserunners on first and third base, keeping the game tied at 1-1 headed to the bottom of the seventh.
“That’s one thing we got. We got a lot of good arms in the bullpen,” Kelly said. “We can run a lot of guys out there for match-ups and those types of things.”
Offensively, Kelly says his team is still a work in progress, though. The Panthers had just five hits in Friday’s win, including an RBI single from Peyton Rehm in the second inning that tied the game.
“We’re running a lot of guys out there in the lineup,” Kelly said. “We’ve got a young team and just gotta keep battling when we get up to the plate. And I’m gonna keep running guys out there and giving them opportunities. That’s one thing we gotta rely on. We got a lot of depth.
“We just had a good team effort today, and that’s what we needed. Hopefully we can carry that on into the next games.”
After the win, Petal dropped the second game of their varsity doubleheader to Taylorsville, 13-7. The Panthers will return to action next Tuesday night as they play host to rival Oak Grove.