GRANVILLE — It didn’t take long for the Putnam County baseball team to show it meant business Saturday.
The Panthers scored in each of the four innings they batted as they cruised to a 15-0, five-inning victory over Newark in the Class 1A Putnam County Regional championship game.
With the win, the Panthers move onto the Class 1A Gardner-South Wilmington Sectional Semifinal at 4:30 p.m. Thursday against Chicago Holy Trinity.
The Panthers, who hit just one home run all season, suddenly turned into a power hitting machine against the Norseman as they belted three on the day.
“We were able to get the jump on them in the first, which is what we were wanting to do,” Putnam County coach Dave Garcia said. “We wanted to play with the lead, but the home runs were a surprise considering we only had one the entire season.”
With two on and one out in the first, Austin Pletsch made it a 1-0 game with an RBI single to right field that scored Harold Fay.
The next batter, Jack Egan, connected for a three-run home run over the right-field fence for a 4-0 lead after the first inning.
After Fay pitched another 1-2-3 inning, the Panthers’ bats got back into the swing of things when Cody Ballerini crushed a two-run home run over the left-field fence to give the Panthers a 6-0 lead.
Then again in the third inning, it was the long ball getting the job done for the Panthers.
After pinch runner Austin Biogini scored on a wild pitch, Xavier Warren hammered a grand slam over the left-field fence to push the lead to 11-0.
“We tripled our home run total for the year in one game,” Warren said, laughing. “Not sure how, but maybe our offense is clicking at just the right time. Coach talked to us about being aggressive and playing with the lead, and once we did that today, we had great pitching and defense to get the job done.”
Fay, Anthony Diaz DeLeon and Tyler Williams combined to give up just three hits and never allowed a runner past second base.
“Getting ahead of hitters is pretty much what coach has told us all year,” Fay said. “It really doesn’t matter if we hit a bunch of home runs or not as long as we hit, pitch and play defense in the postseason when it matters most.”
Ballerini, Justin Pettit and Jake Kasperski all picked up RBIs in the fourth inning to give Putnam County a 15-0 lead, which is where the game ended after the top of the fifth.
The Panthers had four different batters lead the way with two hits each. Warren had four RBIs, while Ballerini and Egan each had three.
Fay picked up the win, going three innings and giving up just one hit and no runs.
Brad Martin Sr. can be reached at 220-6939, or at email@example.com.