By SCOTT TYLER

H-P Sports Editor



It may be a tough season for the Westwood Panthers, but after Friday afternoon, there is some celebration at Nicholson Field.

The Panthers rallied for three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to upset Crockett 9-8 Friday at Nicholson Field for Westwood’s first district win of the season.

“I am real proud of our players,” Westwood head coach Ron Cheek said. “They played real well today and they played the game like it is suppose to be played.”

Westwood trailed by two runs heading into the bottom of the seventh inning when Clayton Thompson and Bruce Smith had singles with one out.

Ryan Mackie loaded the bases on a four-pitch walk and Crockett went to the bullpen, bringing in closer Ky Craycraft.

On his first pitch, John Welch hit a high chopper in between shortstop and third base. Crockett shortstop Jay Maxwell fielded the ball and tried to make an off-balanced throw to first base. Welch had already beaten the throw, but it got even better for the Panthers, as the low throw got past Taylor Burrow at first base, allowing Smith to score the tying run and moving Mackie to third base and Welch to second base.

Then on a 1-0 pitch, Tony Humphries hit a deep fly ball to left field and as the left fielder ran back to make the catch, Mackie came home to score the winning run.

Humphries sacrifice fly was the first time he had not reached base in the game. The Westwood catcher was 3-for-4.

“Tony had a great game,” Cheek said. “He knew all he had to do was get the ball in the air and he got the job done.”

Humphries was not the only one hitting for Westwood on Friday. The Panthers put together 15 hits as all but two hitters had a base hit.

“We shook the line up around and they came through,” Cheek said. “We had good patience at the plate and when they were throwing strikes, we were hitting the ball hard.”

Welch got the win for Westwood as he came in to pitch in relief in the fifth inning with the Panthers trailing 7-5.

Welch helped keep Westwood in the game as he allowed one run in three innings.

“John came in and he shut them down and that is what we needed,” Cheek said.

Crockett opened the game with a run in the first inning but it could have been more as Westwood left hander Zach Dennison got out of a bases loaded jam with a ground out to Smith at shortstop.

Westwood responded with four runs in the bottom of the first inning.

Welch led off with a single and after stealing second he scored on an error by Maxwell off the bat of Humphries, who would later score on a throwing error by the Crockett catcher.

Later in the inning, Randall Reeves singled home Derric Hardy and Reeves would scored on a single by Smith.

Hardy, Reeves and Smith all had two hits for the game.

Westwood added another run in the second inning as Humprhies doubled and was brought home on a single by Zach Dunham.

Crockett scored a single run in the third inning and then put up five runs in the fourth inning to take a 7-5 lead.

The five-run fourth inning included a two-run double by Matthew Bradshaw and an RBI triple by Burrow.

In the fifth inning, Dunham hit a solo home run over the left field wall to cut the Crockett lead to one run.

The Panthers threatened in the sixth inning and looked to at least be in position to tie the game as a single by Humphries, a double by Hardy and an intentional walk to Dunham loaded the bases with one out.

But Crockett escaped the inning when Reeves hit a line drive caught by the Crockett shortstop, who doubled off the runner at third base.

Crockett added what it had hoped to be an insurance run in the seventh inning. The Bulldogs could get no more than one run in the seventh inning as Welch stranded two runners when he got Jacob Young to hit a fly ball to right field.

Crockett had 11 hits against Westwood but the Bulldogs left 14 runners on base, including leaving the bases loaded twice.

Cheek hopes the win Friday can get Westwood on the right track as the season comes to a close. Westwood will play at Palestine Friday and then finish the season the following week with games at home against Hudson and Rusk.

“I would love to see them take two out of those three games,” Cheek said. “Hopefully this win will turn it around for these kids.”

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Scott Tyler may be contacted via e-mail at styler@palestineherald.com

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