Van Alstyne 15, Leonard 3 (6)
The Van Alstyne Panthers tapped the brakes on a two-game losing streak in Leonard on Tuesday night, getting a run-rule win over the Tigers in a big road win for the Panthers.
Van Alstyne scored five runs in the first inning, banged out 15 base hits in 33 trips to the plate in the game, and finished in six innings with the big win.
“We had been batting .139 in the district and we talked about it with the team, we worked on it, and they were ready to play tonight,” Van Alstyne head coach Jimmy Haynes said.
The Panthers not only got timely hitting, they played small-ball as well, scoring two runs in the first on a squeeze bunt perfectly executed by junior Jordan Velekei.
After freshman Sam Tormos had doubled to drive in a run, he was subbed out for courtesy runner Zach Wright.
Junior Hunter Hutchison was on third and Velekei dropped down the bunt with everybody in motion, and Hutchison and Wright both scored. Velekei had three RBIs in the contest.
Tormos started on the mound for the Panthers and he ran into a rough spot in the second.
Three Leonard hits and a couple of walks produced three runs before the freshman could put out the fire. He worked a scoreless third inning before turning the work over to Hutchison.
“Tormos struggled there in the second, but I liked the way he came back at them in the third,” Haynes said.
Haynes said he was also proud of the way his team answered the Tigers second inning rally.
“In past games we have gotten too comfortable with big leads and it looked like that would be the case today, but we responded well,” Haynes said.
The Panthers scored runs in each of the final four innings, hanging up 3s on the scoreboard in the fourth, fifth and sixth frames.
With one out in the fifth, senior Jimmy Head came off the bench and lashed a single down the left field line. Junior Chase Wilson, who had a 3- for-4 day at the plate, legged out an infield hit. Senior Luke Hundt collected his third hit of the game, he was 3-for-3 with a pair of walks, and that hit scored Head.
After senior Ryan Cole had walked, Hutchison singled to center field driving in two runs to give the Panthers a 12-3 lead. Hutchison had three hits in four trips to the plate.
Two hit batters, a Leonard error, and hits by Zach Wright and Tyler Wilson produced the runs needed to get the run-rule margin.
Hutchison, who came on to pitch in the fourth, gave up just one hit in three innings of work, while striking out six.
After a leadoff walk in the fifth, a strikeout and a 5-4-3 double play kept the Tigers off the board.
Hutchison walked two in the Leonard sixth inning, but three strikeouts sent some of the fans home early as the Panthers got win number three in district play.
“Hutch had been leaving his pitches up there for a couple of outings and we worked on that,” Haynes said. “His off-speed stuff was really working for him tonight and he kept the ball down.”
Getting his team ready to play a Commerce team with a 1-5 record is the task facing coach Haynes before the Panthers’ Friday trip east.
“We try to stress on our guys that records don’t mean that much and we can’t take Commerce, or anyone else, lightly,” Haynes said.
The Leonard game should be evidence of that as the Tigers were sporting the better record of the two teams prior to the start on Tuesday.
Look what that got them.