The Hall and Putnam County baseball teams were undefeated in the Tri-County Conference before the two squads met Monday in Spring Valley.
When senior pitcher Brett Fanning and the Red Devils (13-4, 4-0 TCC) were done showcasing their bats and ability at the mound, Hall remained the only unblemished TCC school with a 7-4 victory.
“I came out fired up ready to go, very focused and ready to play,” Fanning said. “I hadn’t beat them yet for three years. The fourth one — my last shot — I was hoping my team would come ready to play just as much as I would. I told them, ‘This is my last time, we got to come out and get them.’”
Fanning led by example by striking out 11 PC batters and hitting two home runs for five RBIs.
He started the contest by striking out two and not allowing either of the two Panther base runners past second base.
The first inning had not seen enough of Fanning as he came to bat third in the Red Devil lineup after Taggart Venegas was hit by a pitch.
With one on, Fanning took two balls from PC started Harold Fay before he found his pitch and blasted it over the left-field fence for a home run and an early 2-0 lead over PC (14-8, 3-1 TCC).
“I just tried to stay focused, keep my eye on the ball. After the first couple of games (of the season), I started working out, getting into the field, taking batting practice and hitting a lot,” Fanning said. “It’s starting to pay off.”
The second Fanning dinger came in the fourth inning as he was the sixth Hall batter out of nine to approach the plate in the frame.
“Brett got us going there. We needed that — maybe just a sigh relief, maybe just a little breath of fresh air. The good thing for us is we were able to extend some innings,” Keegan said. “The fourth inning we were able to extend and keep tacking on. As it turns out, we needed them all.”
Fanning’s homer was part of a five-run inning for Hall.
The Panthers’ bats had trouble connecting through six innings.
Through the first six innings, one runner made it to third and eight were stranded.
Until the seventh inning.
Fanning said he was gassed in the sixth inning and shouldn’t have went out for the beginning of the seventh but wanted to try to finish off what he had started.
After Evan Kreiser hit a single to lead off the inning, he was brought to second by Hall’s only error of the game, which put Fay on first. Kreiser reached third and scored on past balls.
“We weren’t being aggressive in the zone. He kept working ahead. You have to tip your hat to Fanning, he stuck it to us,” PC coach Dave Garcia said.
Fanning then walked center fielder Jack Egan before being replaced by Austin Schmitt.
Schmitt walked PC shortstop Xavier Warren before getting a strikeout and a groundout.
PC designated hitter Austin Pletsch hit a double to the right-field warning track to score Fay, Egan and Warren to cut the score to 7-4, but the rally ended on the next batter with a routine groundout to the shortstop.
Brandon LaChance can be reached at 220-6939, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_LaChance.