Peyton Plunkett knows right away when he’s feeling locked in on the mound.
Tuesday night was one of those times.
The Palmyra junior pitched a complete game to lead the Panthers to an 11-1 victory over Louisiana in a Clarence Cannon Conference contest.
Plunkett permitted just two hits and one run over five innings while striking out 10 Bulldog batters. At one point, the righty struck out seven straight.
"I was feeling really good," Plunkett said. "You know when you feel it and when you don’t. It feels nice to go out there and pitch for the team and get the win."
Palmyra, which led 7-1 through four innings, rallied for four runs in the top of the fifth inning to go up 10 before Plunkett worked around two base runners to keep Louisiana off the board in the bottom half to enforce the mercy rule.
The victory moves the Panthers to 12-4 this season and keeps them in control of their own destiny in the conference race. Louisiana falls to 0-9.
Nolan Wosman got the scoring started in the first inning with an RBI single that scored teammate Peyton Abbott.
In the bottom of the frame, though, Louisiana countered to manufacture its only run of the day. Camerson Henderson came up with an RBI hit for to knot the score 1-all.
"We did kind of exactly the way I drew it up," Louisiana coach Ryan Griffin said. "Get that first guy on, bunt him over. Even though our third hitter had a ground ball out, it was to the right side and moved the runner over (to third), and we got a two-out hit to get him in. That’s the way we drew it up — especially for so many young guys, that’s pretty good for us."
But Palmyra just kept coming.
In the second inning, Jacob Kroeger drew a one-out bases-loaded walk to put the Panthers ahead 2-1 before Abbott hit a sacrifice fly to bring home Brock Malone to go up by two runs.
Wosman then beat out an RBI infield single to bring home Jory Maddox and grow the visitors’ advantage to 4-1.
"Nolan Wosman is a very impressive player," Plunkett said of the sophomore, who finished 3-for-4 with four RBIs. "He does a very, very good job for us at the three (spot in the lineup) and going out there playing shortstop. He deserves all the praise we give him."
Plunkett struck out the side in both the second and third innings.
"He did a good job, especially with a breaking ball," Griffin said of the opposing pitcher. "He was on, dealing, throwing a lot of strikes. I think we were overmatched a little bit."
In the top of the third, Gabe Goodwin and Malone smacked back-to-back singles to knock Louisiana starter Remington Feldewerth out of the game. Reliever Bradley Keely got through the rest of the frame, but not before Palmyra clawed for three more runs.
Maddox reached on an error to score Goodwin, and Kroeger roped a single to right field to bring home Malone and Maddox, giving Palmyra a commanding 7-1 advantage.
"We played our game the whole way through," Palmyra coach Mark Loman said. "We bunted when we needed to and got a couple hits on the bunt and then we put up a couple doubles and things like that too. All around, it was a good approach, I think."
Kroeger, who drove in four runs on the day, hit an RBI groundout in the fifth to score Maddox before Wosman smoked a two-RBI single to left field to make it 10-1. Caden Power capped the rally with an RBI double that scored Wosman to go ahead by 10, all but securing a big victory over a CCC rival.
"We come out here and we don’t overlook anyone," Plunkett said. "We’re Palmyra, so a lot of teams like to play us. They play us pretty good. They want the win. So we come out here and play our best ball just like they play theirs."
Despite the defeat, Griffin was pleased with how his team tightened up its defense since a 13-12 loss its last time out.
"We just did a pretty good job rebounding," he said. "We played last Thursday against South Shelby and had 11 errors. We cut it down to five today."
Palmyra faces Centralia on Thursday in what is the Panthers second-to-last conference contest of the season.
"Right now we’re in the conference hunt," Loman said. "If we let this one slip by, they’re good enough to beat you. (Louisiana) had two pitchers that were around the plate and didn’t walk that many. If you let that team step up and beat you, now you’re completely out of the conference race.
"Hopefully we finish up and maybe get a little help. If we don’t, we’re in control of our own destiny in our conference right now."