Tifton Gazette


April 1, 2014

Panthers can’t hold after big comeback

CHULA — The Tiftarea Academy Panthers erased a 9-run deficit in the first game of their Tuesday doubleheader with the Faith Baptist Christian Academy Crusaders, but  were unable to hold on in a 12-9 loss.

An 8-run 2nd that knocked starter John Thomas Tanner from the box and a 1-run 3rd put Faith up 9-0. However their starter Riley Jarrett had problems keeping Tiftarea's bats quiet.

The Panthers put five across the plate in the 3rd, then one and two over the next two innings to cut the lead to a single run in the bottom of the 6th.

Their comeback was completed with two-out magic.  Greer Howard singled and Thomas Spurlin dinked a ball over second base. Devin Paulk then stepped up and hit a fly to center just out of reach that scored Howard. Taylor Folsom had runners at second and third, but a strikeout stopped them from taking the lead.

Tied 9-9 and with Ethan Bryant working his fourth inning, the Panthers were unable to hang on. Leadoff man Tyler Shackelford reached on a walk and was at third with no one out after a single by Wilcor Villasana and and walk to Leo Castro. Shackelford scored on an errant throw, a fielder's choice scored another and a single brought home the final run.

The Panthers got a single from Noah McMinn in the 7th, but were unable to do further damage.

Through two innings, all Tiftarea had to show for their efforts was a single and a walk. That would change in a hurry.  McMinn walked, stole second and came around on Rob Flick's hit. Flick came home when Cade Marlowe hit a long triple, which turned into two runs when the throw to 3rd went wild.

Howard next doubled, went to third on a fielder's choice and came in on a wild pitch. Bases clear once more, they would remain clear after Devin Paulk homered to center to make the score 9-5.

In the 4th, Bryant's one-out walk brought results when Howard singled with the bases loaded. An inning later, the rally started on a free pass to Paulk and Folsom getting plunked by a pitch. Both scored on a double by Bo Vickers. Vickers, representing the tying run, almost did so on a double steal attempt, but he was gunned down at the plate.

The eight runs by Faith in the 2nd came off six hits, with Tanner needing six batters before he could record an out. When four more men reached, Pete Perrin was brought in for relief. He would pitch 1.1 innings.

Howard's three hits led the Panthers, with Flick and Paulk each suppling two. Paulk and Vickers each had a pair of RBIs.

The teams were scheduled to play a late game Tuesday before Tiftarea hit the road for a three-day road trip to Tallahassee, Fla. There, they are to face a trio of local squad John Paul II, Rickards and Florida State University High.

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Tift County head football coach John Reid.

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