After dropping its first game of the season, the South Iron Panthers rattled off five wins in a row to start the season 5-1.
In the lone defeat (a 12-9 heart-breaker to Clearwater) the Panthers were beat up all game. Clearwater scored one run in each of the first three innings, five runs in the fourth and four runs in the fifth. However, the Panthers did not go away quietly. They scored one run in the third and had an eight-run surge in the fifth, but ultimately came up short.
Drenin Dinkins, Harley Lewis, Luke Lunyou and Karl Slusher all made appearances on the mound for South Iron. They allowed a combined ten earned runs, as Lewis picked up the loss.
Thankfully, the Panthers edged out Arcadia Valley 4-3 for its first win of the season. Cody Hughes had the hot bat for the Panthers going 4-4, scored two runs and had an RBI. Dinkins had two hits and three RBIs, Brock Wakefield and Joel Poston each had two hits and an RBI and eight of the nine Panthers that made a plate appearance all had hits.
South Iron struck first and put one run on the board in the first inning. Arcadia Valley scored three in the second and third innings but couldn’t overcome the three-run third inning put up by the Panthers.
Hunter Kelley was 2-2 at the plate and drove in a run while Lewis and Lunyou each had an RBI as well. Wakefield threw 89 pitches through four innings and stuck out six in the win.
Next for South Iron was Neelyville.
Runs came early and often for the Panthers in this one as they again started scoring in the first inning. An RBI single by Poston and a two-RBI double by Kelley resulted in a 3-1 South Iron lead after one.
The second inning resulted in more scoring for the Panthers in the form of an RBI triple from Wakefield. He then scored on a passed ball shortly after to extend the lead to 5-1. It was Wakefield again in the fourth inning when he ripped a double into centerfield that knocked in a run.
Neelyville showed some life and scored a run in each of the fifth and sixth innings, but that was all they could muster up. They walked in a run in the sixth which secured a South Iron victory.
Dinkins started the game on the mound, struck out nine through five innings and picked up the win. Lewis came in and threw 30 pitches in relief.
In the Panthers’ game against West County, Wakefield was a big contributor again. This time it was on the mound. He threw 112 pitches through seven innings and struck out 11. West County could only put together three hits and one earned run.
South Iron scored a run in the first and one in the third, which was all they needed. Dinkins went 2-4 and Poston knocked in an RBI in the 2-1 victory.
The offense got back to work in the next game against Valley Caledonia.
The only frame the Panthers were unable to push a run across the board was in the second. Wakefield went 2-4 with two RBI and two runs scored. Slusher went 2-4, scored two runs and knocked in an RBI and when it was all said and done Hughes have driven in three on the day.
Kelley started the game and struck out four through five innings, eventually giving way to Lewis in relief.
The fifth Panthers’ win came against Eminence in yet another offensive outburst.
As per usual, they started scoring early and knocked in a few runs in the first inning. Hughes hit an RBI-single that scored Wakefield. Hughes later scored on an RBI-double by Lewis.
They added four more runs in the fourth that started with a Kelley RBI-single. A balk by the opposing pitcher forced in a run, which set the table for a Wakefield RBI-single where he eventually stole home in the inning. They added one more run in the game on another Kelley RBI in the fifth inning and the Panthers won 7-1.
Dinkins started the game and struck out seven on 60 pitches through three and one-third innings. Lewis came in for relief, let up one run and also struck out seven.
Through the first six games, Wakefield is 9-17 which makes for a .529 batting average that leads the team.
“I’m just trying to get a good pitch to hit and trying to get the barrel on the ball,” he said.
It’s business as usual for Wakefield.
Hughes and Kelley both have averages over .400 and each have five RBIs. Wakefield also leads the team in runs scored with eight. Brodie Miller and Hughes are right behind with seven each.
Wakefield is also leading the team on the mound with 11 innings pitched and has only allowed three runs, rocking a 1.90 ERA. Dinkins leads the team in strikeouts with 19 through ten innings.
A hot offense and steady performances on the mound have led the Panthers to a 5-1 record thus far.