Jennings County nips East in baseball thriller

Panthers rally to tie game, win in extra inning

NORTH VERNON — Heading into the bottom of the fifth inning, Columbus East looked to be in control of earning a key victory against Jennings County.

The Panthers roared back.

Jennings trailed by four runs until they tying the game to send it into extra innings. In the eighth inning with the bases loaded, Cody Wilson hit a sacrifice fly to right field that was deep enough to score the game-winning run for a come-from-behind 11-10 win.

“This team showed a lot of resilience tonight,” Jennings coach Trent Hardisty said. “We don’t ever, ever give in. Both teams kept going back and forth and this was probably one of the best high school games I have seen in a while.”

The big turning point for the Panthers (5-7) came in the bottom of the fifth. Tyler Vogel reached on a single. Josh Pettit, who started the game on the mound, redeemed himself from his pitching mistakes earlier in the game to blast a two run homer to cut it 8-6.

Momentum was on Jennings’ side from that point forward.

“(Pettit) has been showing up here at the plate recently, and that was huge for him,” Hardisty said. “His confidence has been growing. He stayed back on the pitch like he was supposed to and drove through it and it flew.”

For the early part of the game, it was all East. Offense was no stranger for the Olympians (9-5), especially Harry Crider, who had two home runs. He torched his first homer, a solo shot, deep over the left-field fence in the second to help spark his team to a 4-1 lead.

Crider’s second blast came in the next inning when he led off with another solo shot that was almost very identical to his first to extend the East lead 5-1.

Jennings came back in the bottom of the third. Pettit and Bret Sawyer reached on a walk and a hit by pitch, respectively. Bryce Furnish then stepped up and smacked a three-run homer to the lead to 5-4.

With East leading 8-6 heading into the sixth, the Panthers scored three runs on three hits take a 9-8 lead. The Olympians came back with two runs off of singles from Julian Greenwell and Drew Hasson to retake the lead at 10-9.

In the bottom of the seventh, Matt Kirchner led off with a single and later scored off a Pettit single to tie the game at 10-10.

“You have to give credit to (Jennings), they hit the ball hard when they needed to and got the key hits,” East coach Jon Gratz said. “We left guys on base, and we gave them some bases, but that is part of it. We just have to learn from it and get better.”