HACKLEBURG — The Hackleburg Panthers won their three game series against Ragland in the first round of the playoffs on April 20-21, in Hackleburg.
Their first of two games on Thursday against the visitors was a close one as Hackleburg had to fight back later on in the matchup to defeat the Purple Devils.
After three scoreless innings for both teams, Ragland took a 2-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning after hitting a two run homer out to center field.
After a lack of response from the home side in the bottom of the inning, Ragland added to their lead in the top of the fifth.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, with the bases loaded, the Panthers earned a walk, bringing in their first run of the game.
With Hackleburg playing well offensively later on, Edge Weeks stepped up to the plate to hit a triple, earning three more runs for the Panthers that saw them take the lead for the first time.
Hackleburg would see out the game, giving them a big confidence boost going into the next game.
Their confidence however, did not give them the win they needed to end their day early as Ragland would win the second of the series 13-8.
Despite Hackleburg hitting a two run homer in the top of the first, thanks to Ross Hudson, an error and a home run in the bottom of the inning would see Ragland take the lead.
The Panthers did well to stay close to their opponents on the scoreline, but Ragland’s offense seemed too hot to handle in the second game, pushing Hackleburg into a third, loser goes home final game in the first round.
With the pressure on for the Panthers, Hackleburg showed their nerves early on in the final game on Friday, giving up a home run in the top of the second inning to make it 2-0 to their opponents.
Hackleburg managed to score on a walk in the bottom of the inning, keeping things close on the scoreline.
After keeping Ragland at bay at the top of the third, another walk after Weeks was hit by a pitch brought in another run, tying the game up 2-2.
Ragland, however, managed to hit another two run home run, leaving the Panthers with a lot to do on offense in the game.
A Hudson double brought in a run in the bottom of the inning, but Hackleburg was still behind.
Having again loaded the bases in the bottom of the fifth, Hackleburg took their first lead of the game, making it 5-4.
With Ragland scoring yet again, and the score at 5-5 in the bottom of the sixth inning, Aiden Beard hit a double, driving in three runners to make it 8-5 for the Panthers.
Things were looking good for the Panthers in the home stretch, but Ragland, who would not give up, scored five runs on walks and a single in the top of the seventh inning.
With the game appearing to have slipped away from the Panthers in the dying stages of the game, Hackleburg pulled off what will be a memorable day for the home team.
Hackleburg slowly put good at bats together, scoring runs from a fielder’s choice and an error, before walking in the tying run.
The bases were loaded with a full count as Jayce Ables took the payoff pitch and Hackleburg got their walkoff win to end the series.
Hackleburg will host Lynn in the second round of playoffs, scheduled for tomorrow, April 27.
See complete story in the Journal Record.