By Tracie Greene
The Stone Memorial Panther baseball team entered their final District 4AA Tournament by shutting out Scott County 18-0 last Thursday night and losing to Alcoa 9-8 Friday evening to fall into the loser's bracket Monday afternoon against Kingston at Christian Academy of Knoxville (CAK).
Alcoa 9, SMHS 8: The Panthers took the field with their offense and defense in gear Friday night as they faced the second-seeded Alcoa Tornados.
Gabriel Caballero started on the mound and pitched well enough for a win. Reliever Jason Moldenhauer played his heart out both at the plate and in the field and didn't deserve the 9-8 loss.
Austin Helton led off the top of the first with a walk and scored on Moldenhauer's two-run homer to give the Panthers a two-run lead before Caballero took the mound.
Alcoa's leadoff man went down on strikes with the next two batters grounding out and flying out.
Both teams were held scoreless in the second.
Moldenhauer led off the top of third with a double and scored on singles by John Martin and Nathan Greene, while the Tornadoes were unable to plate any runs in their half of the third inning, as SMHS led 3-0.
Clay Wilson reached on an error to open the top of the fourth inning, followed by back-to-back singles by Sawyer Casey and Austin Helton and a walk to Moldenhauer. A.J. Tarallo's double gave the Panthers a 7-0.
Alcoa scored two runs on a double and two errors in their half of the inning to slice the Panther lead to 7-2.
Wilson again reached on an error in the fifth, advanced on Casey's sacrifice fly and scored on Helton's single for the Panther's eighth run.
Alcoa scored two more in the bottom of the fifth on three hits to make the score 8-4.
Tarallo singled in the top of the sixth, but was left on base.
Coach James White brought Moldenhauer to mound from centerfield in the bottom of the sixth inning. He gave up two walks and a single, before the next batter reached on an error.
After one trip across the paint, White decided to leave Moldenhauer on the mound; however, two more Tornadoes walked with another trip to the mound without a pitching change.
An error at second base was the blow that the Tornadoes needed for a fifth run to take a 9-8 lead.
Stone's batters flew out in order in the top of the seventh to end the game.
Helton led the Panther's with three hits, followed by Moldenhauer and Tarallo with two each. Caballero, Martin, Greene, Wilson and Casey each contributed singles.
Panthers 18, Scott County 0: Thursday night was a must win for the SMHS Panthers to advance further in district tourney action.
Sophomore pitcher Austin Robertson pitched 4 2/3 innings with four strikeouts in the shut-out. Dustin Bartley came in for relief to record the last out.
Scott County only had 14 batters at the plate with only two reaching first on a walk and a base hit in the run rule-shortened game.
Panther offense was led by Luke Matthews, Jason Moldenhauer, Gabriel Caballero, Nathan Greene, Rayne Bennett and Clay Wilson knocking two hits. Batters with singles included John Martin, Austin Helton, A.J. Tarallo and Sawyer Casey.