Straughn falls short against Excel in home area game

Published 11:00 am Monday, April 17, 2023

Excel took advantage of two defensive mistakes and scored two unearned runs for a 4-1 win at Straughn in varsity baseball action Tuesday, April 11.

Clark Gay prepares to deliver a strike to the plate during Straughn’s home area game against Excel on Tuesday. (PHOTO BY ZACK MAIO)

The Panthers improved to 12-3 overall and 6-0 in 3A Area 2, while the Tigers dropped to 10-9 and 4-2 against area competition.

Clark Gay used only six pitches for a quick 1-2-3 top of the first. Saxby Radford reached second on an error in the bottom half, but Will Taylor recorded a pop-up and struck out the next two batters. Eason Pipkin walked and stole second with one out in the second. Jacob Gandy followed with a single up the middle as Pipkin was tagged out at the plate. Jaxson Smith walked before Emory Melvin made a nice grab in left field for the third out. Gay led off the home portion with a single until a double play and strikeout ended the frame.

EHS drew first blood with a pair of runs in the third. Kolby Peavy had a sacrifice fly and drove home Koleman Wiggins. Cade Barnett reached on an error that sent Will Thomas to the plate. Gay struck out Jacob Gandy for the final out. Thomas retired SHS on 10 pitches and kept the score 2-0 after three innings. Smith took a leadoff walk in the fourth as courtesy runner Kolby Sirmon was caught stealing second. Zaylon McMillian and Wiggins followed with consecutive singles but were stranded. Eli Guilford had a single, while Gay drew a free pass. Taylor snuffed the rally with an inning-ending double play.

Peavy and Barnett singled and put runners at the corners with one out in the top of the fifth. Gandy scored Peavy and pushed the lead to 3-0. Taylor Sikes led off the bottom half with a walk and cut the deficit to 3-1 when Guilford worked a bases-loaded walk. Neither side scored in the sixth inning.

The Panthers added an insurance run in the seventh. Thomas opened the frame with a single and came home on an RBI groundout by Pipkin for a 4-1 lead. Houston Smith ended the visiting half with a flyout. Layne Grantham had a four-pitch walk and was followed by a single from Radford. Taylor held the Tigers off the board and induced a game-ending double play.

Grantham, Sikes, and Gay each went 1-for-2 at the plate for SHS, while Guilford and Radford were 1-for-3. Gay allowed four runs (two earned) on eight hits with three strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings. Wiggins and Thomas paced EHS with 2-for-4 showings.

The two teams concluded the series Friday, April 14, when Straughn traveled to Excel and fell 15-5 in five innings. The Tigers will travel for the first round of the state playoffs this week.