Panthers win first game of season behind strong pitching, defense
— Less than a week after it squandered a three-run lead in an eventual loss, the Perryville baseball team made sure it didn’t suffer the same fate twice.
Behind a big three-run third inning that broke a scoreless tie, starting pitcher Kody Brown’s complete game and stellar defense, the Panthers outlasted visiting North East 6-4 and picked up their first win of the season in Susquehanna Division action on Friday.
“I feel awesome for this team,” Perryville coach Jason Gunning said. “It happened to us against Bo Manor [on Monday]. We got out to a three-run lead and we just couldn’t finish. This time, we had confidence because we had been there with that three-run lead before. We knew not how to lose it this time.
“North East played well all game, they fought back. We didn’t relinquish the lead. We just kept the confidence, and the defense and pitching was out of this world.”
Brown, a senior, allowed four
runs—three earned—on five hits and four walks with two strikeouts to earn the complete-game victory. He was aided by a strong defensive effort that produced sparkling plays nearly every inning.
“I gave it my all, throwing a lot of off-speed pitches and keeping them off-balanced, but I wasn’t afraid to throw them fastballs because I knew my defense was behind me making plays. They were there all game,” Brown said. “I tried to keep [the hits] on the ground mostly or really high up in the air so that the [defense] has a chance to field it instead of [trying to catch] line drives. They were just on point today.”
The Panthers (1-3 overall, 1-1 division) provided their starting pitcher with a three-run lead in the third inning on the strength of a five-hit inning. After senior Jared Brustman connected for a solo inside-the-park home run to deep right field with one out, freshman Mike Newsome and junior Zach Strong followed with RBI singles that drove in Brown and Silas Stevens, respectively, who had reached on base hits.
The Indians (4-2, 1-1) later tied the score in the top of the fifth inning, but the Panthers responded by crossing the plate twice more in the bottom of the frame to retake the lead. Both teams then traded runs in the sixth inning, before Brown retired all three batters he faced in the seventh inning to end the game.
“Perryville deserved to win this game. They played an incredible baseball game. I give them all the credit in the world,” North East coach Kevin Brown said. “They play to put the ball in play and put the pressure on the defense and that’s what we preach. We hit the ball hard today at different times, they just made some fantastic plays on those balls.”
Newsome ended with two RBIs on two hits and Brown scored twice on three hits, while Jake Eldreth, Charles Cummings, Brustman and Strong all drove in a run for the Panthers.
North East’s Eric Steele produced a two-run double to drive in Payton Hoskins and Patrick O’Brien in the fifth inning, before coming around to score later in the frame. In the one-run sixth inning, O’Brian contributed a two-out RBI single to center but remained stranded when a fly-ball out ended the frame.
“This is huge,” Kody Brown said. “It’s our first win this season, it means everything. To come out here and win a home game, it’s great.”
Follow Jordan Schatz on Twitter: @Jordan_Whig
Perryville freshman Mike Newsome, right, is tagged out by North East sophomore catcher Cameron Blankenship during the fifth inning of the Panthers’ 6-4 win over the visiting Indians in Susquehanna Division baseball action on Friday.