The Bartlett Panthers got strong pitching performances from Beau Caviness, Bryan Cruse and Nick Bramlett but the offense was suddenly silent in a 1-2 week.
“Sometimes it’s not about wins or losses,” Coach Phil Clark said about his team’s effort. “At this point in the season it’s about getting people ready for the post season. It’s getting healthy and getting them back in the right spots in the line-up.”
Playing short-handed with starters Chaise Claudio and Bobby Holder out with injuries, Bartlett seemed to play to the competition in another rain-inhibited week.
The Panther’s spotted Houston six in the first in a 6-4 loss; had to forge three separate comebacks to slip past St. Benedict 7-6 and couldn’t score when they had men in scat third in a 2-1 setback to Collierville.
“We played good people,” Clark said of his team’s only week to lose more than they win. “With Chase (shoulder) and Holder (ribs) out, we’ve been able to get some younger kids some quality at bats at the top of the order.”
The Panthers had too few quality at bats all week long with the exception of Justin Ammons who refused to let the record go to 0-3.
Facing St. Benedict Wednesday night, the freshman Ammons twice rescued Bartlett hitting a sacrifice fly in the eighth to keep the Panther’s alive and slapping a two-out walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth to score Parker Wilson in the 7-6 come-from-behind win.
Trailing 2-1 going into the final frame, Ammons worked a walk to lead off the bottom of the seventh and scored on Bryan Cruse’s two-out single.
After the War Eagles answered with two in the top of the eighth, Ammons answered with his sacrifice fly and down two again in the ninth, his two-out hit followed a wild pitch and a pair of walks.
Taylor Wilson got the win despite giving up four runs in two innings of work. Bryan Cruse started on the mound for Bartlett striking out nine while giving up three hits and a pair of runs, none of them earned as the Panther’s committed three errors in the first.
Houston 6 Bartlett 4
One bad inning was too much for the Panther’s suddenly struggling offense to overcome as they fell to district rival Houston Tuesday.
“They got a hit, a couple of walks, a hit by pitch and two flare singles and suddenly we were down six,” Clark said of the Mustang’s first-inning eruption.
“I was actually proud of Beau (Caviness) for the way he hung in there,” Clark continued.
Caviness threw a complete game striking out eight and tossing six innings of shutout ball after the first inning issues.
The Panthers tried to respond getting a pair in the fourth and the tying run at the plate in the seventh.
A Wesley Johnson walk and back to back singles by Cruse and Keegan Floyd made it 6-2 after four while singles by Ammons, Drew Hollis and a triple by Wesley Johnson made it a two-run game in the seventh before Cruse went down swinging.
Collierville 2 Bartlett 1
In a rare Sunday match-up against two of the mid-south’s elite Bartlett couldn’t manufacture a run despite multiple opportunities.
Keegan Floyd drove in Bartlett’s only score when he plated Wesley Johnson but the Panthers had men on third with one out or less in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings.
Nick Bramlett, making his second start of the season, was touched for the loss despite only giving up seven hits.
The Panthers will test their mettle against Houston and Collierville again this week before heading into district play at 4 p.m. Friday against the winner of the Cordova/Millington contest. If the Panthers win they will face the winner of Bolton and Arlington Monday night at USA Stadium in Millington.