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PAXTON — Andrew Zenner picked up the initial win for the Paxton-Buckley-Loda Junior High School’s baseball team Saturday, but the save went to the school’s athletic director, Kelli Vaughn, who found an opponent for head coach Rick Johnson’s team on short notice after PBL’s regularly scheduled opponent, Ridgeview, bowed out.
Prairieview-Ogden proved a good match for the host Panthers, who won the “A” game 6-3 behind Zenner’s seven-hit complete game. In the “B” contest, the Panthers overcame an early 3-0 lead to win 17-5 as lefty Tyler Adkins pitched well with two innings of relief to earn the victory.
In the opener, PBL looked poised to blow things open early as Cole Eshleman led off with a single in the bottom of the first inning and the next two hitters reached to load the bases with none out. But Mustangs pitcher Drake Lannert induced Zenner to hit into a double play (scoring Eshleman) and the Panthers only scored once in the frame.
For the next three innings, Zenner and Lannert pitched shutout ball, and P-O tied the game in the top of the fifth as Zenner allowed a pair of singles. Lannert tired in the bottom of the fifth and eventually left the contest with a sore arm. By then, however, PBL had gotten enough offense to make the difference in the game.
Eshleman reached on an error, Cooper Johnson singled to right field and the runners advanced to second and third on a throwing error. An infield single by Dalton Coplea loaded the bases with no out, and Zenner’s single drove in Eshleman to put PBL ahead 2-1. Johnson scored on a balk by Lannert, and Luke Fitton walked to load the bases once more.
Michael Curry then iced the game for the Panthers with a single, and Adkins’ single plated another run and completed the four-run rally. PBL scored once more in the bottom of the sixth, and while P-O tallied two unearned runs in the top of the seventh, Zenner finished off the complete-game by fanning his eighth batter.
Eshleman led PBL’s six-hit attack with a pair of hits and scored three times.
“Zenner pitched a great game and so did the other guy (Lannert),” said Johnson about the opener. “But we didn’t beat ourselves, and their errors really hurt them. Overall, I was pleased with how we played Saturday; everybody played and everyone contributed.”
In Saturday’s second contest, P-O scored three times off Jaxson Coplea in the top of the first inning before PBL rallied with a run in the first, another in the second and seven in the bottom of the third. An eight-run fourth frame was highlighted by two hits by Mitch St. Peter and a double and single by Denault.
Defensively, PBL received a solid effort from shortstop Ben McClure in the nightcap, and Kaleb Denault was 4-for-4 to pace the offense. Colten Kleinert tossed two innings to finish up for PBL.
On Monday, the Panthers edged Unity 5-4 by scoring in the bottom of the seventh on a passed ball. Eshleman earned the win in relief of Dalton Coplea, who had pitched into the sixth inning. PBL had tied the game 4-all in the bottom of the sixth inning by tallying twice as Zenner had a key hit and an error and wild pitch figured in the scoring. Game two was called before it became an official game on account of darkness.
PBL, which played J.L. Nash on Tuesday, travels to Iroquois West on Wednesday and GCMS on Thursday for games that will begin at 4 p.m.