Panthers edge Bulldogs, 1-0, in 11 innings of top-five battle

Published 11:00 am Saturday, April 8, 2023

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A top-five showdown lived up to the hype as Geneva outlasted Andalusia, 1-0, in 11 innings of a varsity baseball matchup Thursday, April 6.

The second-ranked Bulldogs fell to 15-7 on the season and 1-3 in 4A Area 3. The fifth-ranked Panthers moved to 15-2 for the year and 3-1 in area play. The teams finished the series Friday, April 7, when Geneva earned a 4-3 walk-off win and eliminated Andalusia from the playoff picture.

Ryan Jackson led off the game with a single but was caught stealing second. Cody Walsh then struck out the next two batters. Riley Cravey walked with one out in the home half before Walsh singled. Parker Adams reached on an error and loaded the bases. The game remained scoreless after one when Trent Smith induced a double play. Each side put a runner aboard in the second but could not break through. Walsh and Smith both worked 1-2-3 innings in the third as the game moved to the fourth.

Michael Moore opened the fourth with a single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. Walsh came back with two outs and thwarted the rally. Jack Lathrop slashed a single with one out in the bottom of the frame and reached third but was unable to score. After Walsh set down GHS in order in the fifth, AHS was poised to break the scoreless drought. Jake Coon reached on an error, and Cravey walked. Conner Brooks who reached on a fielder’s choice stole third, but Smith worked out of the jam and kept the game 0-0.

Geneva put two runners aboard in the top of the sixth, but Walsh struck out Dylan Key for the final out of the frame. Andalusia could not muster any offense in its half and sent the game to the seventh. Both sides worked around a base runner in the seventh, and the game continued into extras with neither side on the board.

Talan Johnson began the eighth with a single but was thrown out attempting to steal second. Walsh set the next two batters down with ease. Cravey took a leadoff walk in the bottom portion before Smith recorded three straight outs. Dylan Jackson had the only base hit from either side in the ninth and moved action to the tenth.

Carson Hughes was hit by a pitch, and John Brannon walked to give the Panthers the first real threat in the last several innings. Both runners moved into scoring position, but Coon delivered in the clutch with a strikeout and groundout. Coon started the last of the tenth with a single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Conner Brooks. Cravey then grounded out and sent pinch runner Tycamren Jackson to third. Reliever Robert Wilson escaped the threat with a groundout.

The Panthers finally broke through with the game’s only run in the top of the eleventh. Wilson walked and took second on a sacrifice bunt. After a wild pitch moved Wilson to third, Tayshun McReynolds reached on an error and brought in Wilson. The Bulldogs were unable to put a runner on in their half, and the game came to an end.

Walsh, Mason Meeks, and Coon all went 1-for-4, while Lathrop and Jackson were both 1-for-5. Walsh took a no-decision but threw 8 2/3 innings of no-run, four-hit ball and struck out 13. Coon had a scoreless inning in relief, and Brooks pitched the final 1 1/3 innings.

Andalusia will return to action with a 4A Area 3 series opener Tuesday, April 11, against Dale County on the road. The two teams will close the series Thursday, April 13, at AHS.