Tied at 4-4 entering the seventh inning, the Knoxville bats sprung to life, exploding for five runs in the decisive inning in a 9-4 win for the Panthers at Pella High School in a game broadcast on 92.1 fm KRLS on Wednesday night.
Knoxville had held a 4-2 advantage before the Little Dutch tied the game in the fifth inning, and seemingly gained the momentum in the game, but the resilient Panthers broke out of a team hitting slump to capitalize on four hits and two walks in the seventh inning to claim the victory.
Knoxville’s Jacob Cunningham led the Panther offense with a 2-for-3 performance that included a double and three RBIs. Justin Katich was also 2-for-3 and had one RBI, and Corey Harrell’s pinch-hit double in the final inning gave him two RBIs and sealed the victory.
Pitcher Eric Jones earned the complete game victory for Knoxville, allowing seven hits while striking out seven and walking just one. Jones helped his cause at the plate by going 2-for-4 with two doubles.
Pella’s Ryan Lanke took the loss in 2 1/3 innings of work in relief starting pitcher Jacob Gleason. Offensively, catcher Daniel Langenfeld led the Little Dutch at the plate, going 2-for-3 with an RBI, while Chris Bandstra added an RBI as well in a 2-for-4 performance at the dish.
The win snaps a four-game losing skid for the Panthers, who are now 6-6 overall and 4-4 in the Little Hawkeye Conference entering another game in the Tulip City on Friday as they face Pella Christian. Pella, meanwhile, will try and turn things around Thursday against PCM. The Little Dutch are 6-9 overall and 4-5 in conference play.