The Jennings County baseball team hadn’t been able to get in much of a rhythm, having played just one game since dropping a wild 13-11 game against Columbus East nearly two weeks ago.
The Panthers got a big momentum swing Wednesday.
After going winless in Hoosier Hills Conference play during the regular season, the Panthers opened league tournament play in style, rallying to pull off a 5-3 upset of Columbus East in eight innings.
“I think this turned around our whole season, to be completely honest,” said Jennings County senior Trevor Milligan, who drove in three runs and scored another. “I mean, that’s a big statement, but this was a huge win for us.”
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The Panthers (5-7) will travel to Class 4A No. 7 Jeffersonville for a semifinal game today. East (12-6-1) plays a consolation-round game at Seymour.
In the decisive eighth, Avery Johnson reached on a fielder’s choice and moved to third on a Justin Pettit double. After an intentional walk to Jacob Clark loaded the bases, Josh Pettit drew another free pass to push Johnson across with the go-ahead run. Milligan followed with an RBI single to double the lead.
East made a final comeback bid in the bottom of the frame. Josh Major was hit by a pitch with one out and took third on a Charlie Burton single. Reliever Jacob Wingate came in and got Takahiro Yamada to bounce into a double play to end the game.
East had forced extra innings when Yamada led off the bottom of the seventh with a base hit and scored on a one-out single by Luke Hostetler. The Olympians moved the winning run to third base with two out, but Panthers starter Tyler Vogel was able to record the third out and keep the game going.
“I thought Vogel did a really good job keeping their sticks in order,” Panthers coach Gabe Lowman said, “because that’s one of the better hitting teams that we’ve faced.”
Jennings County had taken a 3-2 lead in the top of the sixth on a two-run single by Trevor Milligan. Justin Pettit reached on a one-out single and Jacob Clark was hit by a pitch, and after a sacrifice bunt by Josh Pettit moved the runners up, Milligan came through with a base hit to center.
The Olympians took a 2-0 lead in the fourth on consecutive one-out doubles from Nick Andrie and Harry Crider, and an RBI single by Joey Back. Vogel got one of the runs back in the fifth, knocking in Milligan with a sacrifice fly to right.
Foster worked 7 1/3 innings for East, yielding six hits, walking six and hitting a batter while striking out four. He worked his way out of a bases-loaded jam in the third.
“He kept battling all day,” East coach Jonathan Gratz said of Foster. “We’ve just got to get him some more run support.”
Vogel also went 7 1/3 innings, scattering 10 hits. He struck out two and hit a pair of batters.