Aaron Colen, Sports Editor, Aaron.Colen@chickashanews.com
The Amber-Pocasset Panthers baseball team advanced to the state tournament by winning the regional championship Friday night at home over Hydro-Eakly.
It only took five innings for the Panthers to do away with the Bobcats, and Amber-Pocasset got a 14-4 run-rule victory over a Hydro-Eakly team that had just played a long and intense game against Minco right before.
Am-Po had already beaten Hydro-Eakly once on Thursday, but the Bobcats played their way back and had a shot at dethroning the Panthers.
But Amber-Pocasset was fresh and ready to go, and put a steady onslaught of runs on Hydro-Eakly throughout the game, scoring in every single inning.
As one would expect, many Am-Po players put up impressive offensive statistics.
Ryan Cauthen had three RBIs: one on a fielder's choice, one on a walk, and one on a single. Josh Jackson went 4-for-4 with one HBP.
Trey Winfrey started on the mound and split time with Josh Jackson.
Winfrey went 2-for-4 with 2 RBIs.
The run-rule for the game was ten runs after five innings, and the Bobcats almost stayed alive by scoring three runs in the final frame, but Am-Po held on to win by ten.
"It's always a good feeling [to make it to the state tournament]," head coach Cheyenne Graham said. "This is the third time we've been with this group. It never gets old to see those guys dogpile."
Graham said that being able to only play one game the final day was a big advantage in the championship.
"Winning the game [Thursday] was huge for us," Graham said. "They were forced, with Minco battling a little bit, to use one more pitcher than they wanted to use. When we forced their starter out of the game, we felt pretty good about our chances."
As the Panthers get ready for the state tournament, which is slated to begin later this week, Graham said that Am-Po has the potential to beat any team they face, if they're on their game.
"Baseball is one of those games," Graham said. "Anybody can beat anybody at any time. And this group is good enough to beat anybody.
"But, we have to play well. If we play well, we can beat just about anybody. If we don't, we can be beat."