Red-hot Panthers sweep Huntingdon
By Kevin Eckleberry
LAGRANGE – They’re probably about to make another move up the rankings.
Last week, the LaGrange College Panthers rose all the way from 16th to 10th in the D3baseball.com national poll.
After sweeping a three-game series from Huntingdon over the weekend to improve to improve to 18-2, LaGrange College will almost surely move up a few more spots.
It has been a remarkable season for the Panthers, and they kept it going by winning three USA South games on their home field.
LaGrange College edged Huntingdon 3-2 in the series opener on Friday.
In the first game of a doubleheader on Saturday, LaGrange College rallied from an early deficit to win 8-4, and it finished the sweep with a 6-3 win.
LaGrange College improved to 8-1 in the conference, and it has won four in a row since losing to Piedmont on March 4.
The series with Huntingdon began in dramatic fashion, with Joe Pradat’s bunt single in the bottom of the ninth inning driving in the winning run in a 3-2 victory for the home team.
In Saturday’s first game, Huntingdon started quickly with two runs in the top of the first, and it was still ahead 4-2 when LaGrange College took the lead with three runs in the bottom of the fifth.
While the Panthers added on three more runs, pitchers Andrew Weekley and Jonathan Fleckenstein kept the Hawks right where they were.
Weekley pitched six innings and gave up three earned runs, and Fleckenstein was terrific out of the bullpen, allowing no runs and just one hit while striking out three.
Fleckenstein has pitched in 11 games, and he is 4-1 with one save, and he has a 2.63 earned run average, and he hasn’t given up a run in his past six appearances.
The Panthers tied it at 2-2 on a two-run single by Jackson Patrick in the bottom of the third inning.
After the Hawks went back up by two, the Panthers plated three runs in the fifth inning, with Blake Butcher capping the rally with an RBI triple.
Tavin Thompson added an RBI single in the sixth inning, and Cain Sauls and Chad Pigg both had RBI hits in the seventh.
Bell and James Poropatic each had two of the Panthers’ 10 hits, and Joe Pradat had a hit, a walk, and he scored three runs.
In Saturday’s second game, it was the Panthers surging ahead 5-0 through four innings.
The Hawks got back into it with three runs in the top of the fifth inning, but they didn’t score again.
Josh Smithgot the start for the Panthers and he worked six innings and allowed two earned runs.
Austin Brown tossed three scoreless innings to get the save.
The Panthers took the lead with a single run in the third inning on a Jackson Patrick RBI groundout that scored Thompson.
In a four-run fourth inning, Thompson had a two-run single, Bell drove in a run with a single, and Poropatic had a sacrifice fly.
Pradat’s RBI single in the sixth inning capped the scoring.
Thompson, the Panthers’ leadoff hitter, had three hits, a walk, and two RBIs, and Butcher, Blane Swift and Pradat each had two hits.
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