The McKinleyville Panthers saw an eight-run lead evaporate late at Salesian on Saturday, as they fell 9-8 to the Pride in their final tune-up game for league.
The Panthers started strong and put up five runs in the opening two innings, before stretching the advantage to eight in the top of the fifth inning.
The Pride, however, scored one run in both the fifth and sixth innings to give them a spark, and they then exploded for seven runs in the bottom of the seventh for the walk-off victory.
A young Panthers team, which dropped to 6-3, has shown plenty of promise early in the season despite Saturday’s disappointment, as they get set to open the Big 5 at Eureka on Wednesday.
Sophomore Branson Dobrec pitched six strong innings for a no-decision, giving up just two earned runs on six hits and two walks and striking out three.
Evan Fraser took the loss in relief.
Tyson Bragg added a triple, while Bryce Sargent, Kolbey Stolpe, Dobrec and Logan Maher each added a hit.
Dobrec and Maher each also drove in two runs.
Salesian improved to 9-3.
Wednesday’s game between the Panthers and Eureka is set for 4 p.m., with the Loggers then traveling to McKinleyville for a Saturday doubleheader to conclude the league-opening series.