CHULA — The Tiftarea Academy Panthers started their regular season with a bang Tuesday night, defeating the Westfield Hornets 10-2 in a contest that featured a home run and four RBIs from Cade Marlowe.
Bo Vickers, tabbed as the No. 1 starter this week by coach Brad Porter, had two shaky innings, but rallied for four scoreless frames and 9 strikeouts.
Far from the ideal of the boys of summer, the Weather Channel listed the area temperature as being 40 degrees. A handful of fans brought portable heaters and hot chocolate appeared to be the most popular item at the concession stand.
Marlowe's blast came in the 4th inning when the game was tied 2-2. With one out Zach Beier walked and Devin Paulk was hit by a pitch. Noah McMinn flew out, but Marlowe delivered a pitch over the right-centerfield hedge.
That seemed to open the floodgates for the Panthers, as they scored five runs over the next two frames.
Westfield created their own problems in the 5th. The first two men were hit by a pitch, then two wild pitches scored one run. Rob Flick walked and moved up on an error by the first basemen. Another walk put Paulk on, then Noah McMinn popped up a ball between third and short. Neither man could get to it, which allowed Ethan Bryant to trot in for run No. 8.
Marlowe would single in the 6th and score on a single by Flick and Greer Howard made it home on a wild pitch.
Vickers did not have the easiest of times getting started. He surrendered one run on two hits and a walk in the 1st, then allowed another man to score on a wild pitch in the 2nd.
Fortunately, the best Westfield could do was tie as Paulk and Howard both scored in the 1st on singles by Marlowe and Bryant.
Pete Perrin used a submarine delivery to pitch a scoreless 7th.
Tiftarea is scheduled to play at Windsor Academy Thursday and home against Valwood Friday at 6:30.