Brady Barnett delivered the knockout blow Wednesday night to lift the Palmyra baseball team to a 10-7 win over Clark County.
Round three between Clarence Cannon Conference heavyweights Clark County and Palmyra decided the Class 3 District 8 championship Wednesday evening at Flower City Park.
Clark County delivered the first big blow of the game with a four-run second inning. But it was Palmyra who delivered the knockout and secured a 10-7 win for its fifth consecutive district title.
The two teams split a pair of regular season games, each won by the score of 5-3.
Panthers No. 9 hitter Brady Barnett packed the biggest punch Wednesday. The sophomore belted a two-run home run deep over the left-field fence breaking a 7-all tie in the top of the sixth inning.
“He put a pitch right down the middle, maybe middle in, and I just tried to put a good swing on it,” Barnett said of the home run off CCC Player of the Year Zeb Riney. “It was a fastball. Zeb can locate all his pitches well, but I was just looking for a fastball there and was going to react to a curve.”
The home run came on a 3-2 count.
Barnett almost had the bat removed from his hands during the at-bat.
After Jory Maddox coaxed a walk to leadoff the inning, Panthers coach Mark Loman initially wanted to play small ball and move the runner over for the top of the order.
“Coach gave me the bunt sign twice, but both times the pitches were outside,” he explained.
Nolan Wosman capped the inning with a solo home run for the final tally of the game.
Wosman also started the scoring for the Panthers in the top of the first.
Jacob Kroeger was hit in the back on the second pitch of the game before Peyton Abbott sacrificed him to second. Wosman then smacked the first pitch he saw up the middle for a 1-0 lead.
Brock Malone, who finished 3-for-4 with three RBIs, gave Palmyra a 2-0 lead later in the inning with a single.
The top-seeded Indians (15-7) responded with a pair of runs in the home half of the first.
Clark County would tack on four more runs in the second inning, chasing Kroeger off the bump.
“We were pretty stressed there in the dugout after that,” the Panthers skipper admitted after falling behind 6-2. “But our coaches did a nice job of getting the kids settled down and making them realize it was still early in the game and there would be more chances in the game.”
The Panthers responded right away.
Malone, Gabe Goodwin and Kroeger all recorded run-scoring doubles in the top of the third. Kroeger’s two-run two-bagger tied the game at six.
Clark County regained the lead with a single run in the home half. But Peyton Plunkett shut the door on the Indians.
The Panthers righty retired eight straight batters before a single by Addison Sprague in the sixth inning.
Plunkett, who recorded the final six outs Monday night in the semifinals, tossed the final six innings Wednesday for the win.
“He has been really big for us lately,” Loman said. “We kind of nursed him into speed as the season went along, but as you could see tonight he is getting stronger and stronger as the season and games go along.”
Plunkett scattered three hits and fanned seven batters.
The Panthers pounded out 14 hits, 13 of which came off the Indians ace.
“I don’t think Zeb has had that kind of pressure of giving up that many hits like that,” Loman said. “I was really impressed with our offense tonight and the way our guys were aggressive early in the count.”
With the win, the Panthers improved to 19-5 on the season and advanced to the Class 3 sectional at Hallsville on Monday.
“Five in a row feels pretty awesome,” Barnett said. “We are just going to try and keep this thing going for as long as we can.”
Class 3 District 8 Championship
Palmyra 10, Clark County 7
Palmyra 204 013 0 -- 10 14 2
Clark County 241 000 0 -- 7 7 2
PALMYRA (19-5): Jacob Kroeger, Peyton Plunkett (2, W) and Brady Barnett. Top hitters: Nolan Wosman 3-for-5 2 RBI; Kroeger 2-for-3 2 RBI; Caden Power 2-for-4; Plunkett 2-for-5; Brock Malone 3-for-4 3 RBI; Barnett 1-for-2 2 RBI. 2B -- Kroeger, Malone, Gabe Goodwin. HR -- Wosman, Barnett.
CLARK COUNTY (15-7): Zeb Riney (L), Addison Sprague (6) and Grant Plenge. Top hitters: Sprague 2-for-4; Riney 2-for-4. 2B -- Riney.