By Ray Hamill — The Panthers’ bats woke up late in their Big 5 opener on Tuesday afternoon, exploding for eight runs in the bottom of the fifth inning.
And with junior pitcher Kyler Carr in commanding form on the mound, there was no way back for the visiting Del Norte Warriors after that, with the hosts holding on for a 9-0 win.
“It all started with our guy on the hill,” McKinleyville head coach Scott St. John said afterwards. “He came out pounding, and he did a great job for us. He set the tone.”
With the win, the high-flying Panthers remained perfect on the season, improving to 8-0, but more importantly they set the tone for league play while living up to their billing as one of the Big 5 favorites.
In St. John’s words, “it took our bats a little while to get going,” but once they did, there was no stopping them.
The home team brought 12 players to bat in the fifth with just a single out recorded for the first 10.
It was consistent too, with six different players bringing home a run, highlighted by Dustin Ireland’s two-run single.
“We put together a big inning,” St. John said. “We strung together a few hits.”
Lance Lally led off the inning with a walk, before Chase Fisher laid down a perfect bunt and beat out the throw for a single.
Isaac Puzz followed with another single to load the bases with no outs.
Cameron Saso, who finished 2-for-4, then got the onslaught started with a single, before Corbin Eichin made it 2-0 by drawing a bases-loaded walk.
After Ireland’s two-run hit doubled the lead to four, Regan Wolfe made it 5-0 with another single.
Carr then walked to load the bases once again, before Lally made it 6-0 on an RBI single, one of two hits he had on the day.
A passed ball saw another run score before a Fisher double, his second base hit of the inning, plated the eighth and final run of the inning.
On the mound, Carr gave up just two hits in the complete-game performance, while Eichin had the team’s only stolen base.
With the loss, Del Norte dropped to 0-1 in the Big 5 and 3-3-1 overall.
The two teams are scheduled to play a doubleheader at Del Norte on Saturday.