PREP BASEBALL: Panthers hold on late against Martin County West, 10-9

Photo by Sam Thiel TMB’s Anthony Axford executes a bunt during their game against Martin County West on Saturday. The Panthers defeated the Mavericks 10-9.

TRACY – After speeding their way through a 1-0 victory against Red Rock Central/Westbrook Walnut-Grove on Friday, the Tracy-Milroy-Balaton baseball team saw a more back-and-forth dogfight that ended with the Panthers holding on down the stretch for a 10-9 win over Martin County West on Saturday afternoon.

With a combination of a seven-run fourth inning and a mix of different pitchers, TMB coach Bill Tauer credited his players for making the necessary adjustments throughout the game to come away with a key victory.

“Rylan’s (Fogelson) only thrown a little bit this year and Tyler (Timm) hasn’t thrown yet in a varsity game this year and those guys need some innings and we need some depth,” coach Tauer said. “They throw strikes and our defense has played pretty well, we had some blunders a little bit here but give those guys credit, they battled and stuck with it and came out with a big win.”

The Panthers were able to jump out to an early lead, as Jake Tauer lined a single before coming around to score on a sacrifice fly from Konnor Zick in the first. TMB then added a run in the bottom of the second on an RBI single from Fogelson to give the Panthers a 2-0 lead.

After the Mavericks struck for a pair of runs in the top of the third to tie things up at 2-2, MCW was able to take its first lead of the day on an RBI single in the next inning.

TMB wasted little time in answering right back, opening the bottom of the fourth with an infield single from Caleb Nordsiden before two quick outs put the Panthers in need of a spark. After a Timm walk, Anthony Axford came up with a key single that brought in two runs to give TMB a 4-3 lead.

The Panthers weren’t done there, however, as Tauer drew a walk before Zick and Jake Byrne connected on back-to-back singles that plated three runs. Griffin Radke then reached on an error on the ensuing at-bat that scored a run in the process, before Nordsiden got his second single of the inning to bring in a run and push their lead to 9-3.

MCW wouldn’t go down without a fight, though, as the Mavericks used a pair of singles and a Panther error to get a run across before scoring again on a sacrifice and a wild pitch to cut the deficit to 9-6.

Not letting MCW’s comeback attempts scare them, the Panthers quickly got a leadoff single from Sawyer Otto and another single from Timm before Axford executed a sacrifice bunt to provide an insurance run and bring their lead back to four.

After neither team found scoring in the sixth, the Mavericks had one final chance to cut into their deficit in the seventh and did just that, capitalizing on a pair of leadoff walks with an RBI single and an error that plated another run to bring MCW to within two. The Mavericks got another RBI single a couple of batters later to make it a one-run game, but TMB was able to get a pair of consecutive outs to close out the game and seal the win.

Nordsiden led the way for the Panthers with a trio of hits and an RBI while Axford added a pair of hits and three RBI and Byrne had a hit and two RBI.

Coach Tauer said their key on offense was their ability to utilize their hitting at the right times throughout the game.

“It’s about not how many hits you can get but when you can get them,” coach Tauer said. “It was good to see, especially with the wind; (Friday) everything was going right to them and we were getting outs and (Saturday) we were hitting some spots and gaps.”

TMB (13-3) will wrap up the regular season against Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg today at 3 p.m.