All 'A' state sectional: Thompson, Panthers shut down Rams

Apr. 20—RACELAND — Even though Pikeville was two hours away from the Hambley Athletic Complex, the Panthers looked right at home Friday.

The 15th Region club took down Raceland, 7-4, to advance in the All "A" state tournament.

"Obviously, you have to tip your hat to Raceland, they're a great ball club," Pikeville coach Shane Simpkins said. "We'll definitely take coming in here and getting a win, for sure."

The loss is just the third of the year for the Rams.

"We just weren't fighting enough early," Raceland coach Marty Mills said. "We spotted them a run in the first inning and they were a lot more comfortable ahead. As the game went on, we fought, we just couldn't get ahead."

The Panthers drew first blood when Sam Wright stole home after a throw to check him at third went wide and rolled to the fence.

Pikeville added another run to its total in the top of the third.

The run came home off a sacrifice fly deep into center field by Isaiah Stanley that brought Isaac Duty to the plate.

The Panthers led 2-0 through the first three frames.

The Rams were turned away in three consecutive 1-2-3 innings by that point. Pikeville starting pitcher Dylan Thompson recorded seven strikeouts across the first nine batters.

"We came in here wanting to put away the leadoff batters," Simpkins said. "Dylan came in here and got to work on that. He got in a groove and commanded the zone on both sides of the plate. He did a great job of locating and his pitch sequence was phenomenal."

Raceland responded in the top of the fourth by putting the Panthers away in three at-bats thanks in part to a well-timed 6-4-3 double play.

The home team tried to carry that momentum into the bottom of the fourth.

Parker Fannin bounced a ball down the third base line and beat out the throw to record the Rams' first hit of the game.

"Parker is a tough kid," Mills said. "He's been around a while and wasn't trying to do too much. He was grinding out the at-bats and did a good job of that."

Fannin eventually was batted around to third base but was stranded there as Thompson got his eighth strikeout to end the frame.

Unfortunately for Raceland, the visiting club carried that momentum into the fifth frame, where Pikeville added to its lead.

The first run came from an RBI single by Thompson. The second was an RBI double from Isaiah Stanley.

It led to a pitching change. Kadin Shore came to relieve Brayden Webb.

Pikeville tallied two more runs off of singles from Jeb Wilkerson and Bash Ryan to go up 6-0.

Raceland finally found a response in the bottom of the fifth inning.

A single from Fannin was mishandled by Pikeville and allowed two runs to score.

Shore knocked in another run to cut the deficit in half at 6-3.

"We know what we have," Mills said of the rally. "We came back and kept fighting. There's still a lot of the season left and a lot of things to clean up. This right here was a good measuring stick."

The score was unchanged in the sixth inning before the Panthers tacked on one more run in the seventh courtesy of Noah Jarrell.

Facing a 7-3 deficit, Raceland tried to find its way back even.

The Rams got one run back when Michael Pennington stole home on a passed ball.

Raceland got runners on second and third, but Isaac Duty, who entered in the sixth inning for Thompson, struck out the potential tying run to seal the Panthers win.

"We just want to make sure we get better every day," Mills said. "That's what we've always done. This will make us better for district play moving forward. We have a really good ball club."

With the sectional win, Pikeville moves on to the All "A" state quarterfinals. The Panthers advance to play Louisville Holy Cross at Eastern Kentucky University on April 27.

"We knew it was going to be tough coming down here," Simpkins said. "We've played them five times in a row in the sectional now. It's a rivalry. We both know each other really well. But anytime you can come here and win, it's a great win and propels us into next week."

PIKEVILLE 101 040 1 — 7 9 1

RACELAND 000 030 1 — 4 6 4

Thompson, Duty (6) and Jarrell; Webb, Shore (5) and Lynd. W — Thompson. L — Webb. 2B — Stanley 2 (P).

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