Panthers batter Lions
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
The LaGrange College Panthers delivered a knockout punch.
Facing Piedmont in the semifinals of the USA South baseball tournament, LaGrange College swept a doubleheader in emphatic fashion to reach the championship round.
The Panthers hit six home runs and scored 11 runs in one inning on the way to a 23-1 victory in game one, and they finished the sweep with a 14-1 victory.
In the two games combined, the Panthers had seven home runs and 47 hits, and they scored at least one run in all but three innings.
The pitching was exceptional as well, with seven pitchers combining to hold Piedmont to three runs in 18 innings.
Next up for LaGrange will be a showdown with North Carolina Wesleyan in the championship series.
The series will be played in Rocky Mount, N.C., and it will be a best-of-three series.
LaGrange College is attempting to win a fourth consecutive USA South tournament championship.
Here’s a look at both of the games against Piedmont:
LAGRANGE COLLEGE 23
It was basically batting practice for the Panthers, who had a remarkable 29 hits, and six of those hits left the yard.
EJ Churchich hit two home runs, and Joe Ruth, Cael Chatham, Trey Pearce and Jack Layrisson each had one home run.
Five different LaGrange players had four hits, and everyone in the lineup had at least one hit.
No one did more damage than Churchich, who had four hits with two home runs, two doubles, and five RBIS.
Pearce also had four hits with a home run and four RBIs, and Ruth had four hits with a home run and three RBIs.
Another member of the four-hit club was McKinley Erves, who had one RBI and three runs scored, and David Smigelski had four hits and a walk.
Layrisson had three hits with a home run and three RBIs, and Chatham had two hits with a home run and two RBIs and three runs scored.
Leadoff hitter Rhett Mixon had two hits and two RBIs, Rhett Hebert had a hit and two RBIs, and Andrue Davis had a hit and an RBI.
Baley Coleman was the starting pitcher, and he threw six strong innings, holding Piedmont to three hits and zero earned runs.
Jeff Norman pitched two innings, and Ethan Fry threw a scoreless ninth inning to finish it.
LAGRANGE COLLEGE 14
The Panthers followed up their memorable game one performance with another strong showing in game two.
The Panthers had 18 hits, and seven members of the lineup had at least two hits.
E.J. Churchich, who had two home runs in game one, had another homer in game two, and he finished the game with two hits and four RBIs, and he also walked and scored two runs.
Trey Pearce had four hits and one RBI, and Rhett Mixon had two hits with a double and two RBIs.
Rhett Hebert had three hits and three RBIs, and Joe Ruth had two hits and two RBIs.
McKinley Erves and Jack Layrisson each had two hits, and Jared Aldridge had a hit and an RBI.
Dalton Brooks was the starting pitcher, and he threw four innings and gave up five hits and no earned runs.
Brett Caneega pitched three scoreless innings, and Tanner Chafin and Spencer Douches threw one inning apiece to finish it.