ONEONTA — Hackleburg’s incredible playoff run has come to an end after two losses against the Appalachian Eagles on Tuesday, May 9.
In their first game of the series, the Panthers simply struggled to keep within arm’s reach of their opponents after letting up four runs in the bottom of the second inning.
After leaking a few runs in the second, their opponents added three more runs in the bottom of the third, making Hackleburg’s task look a lot tougher for the rest of the game.
The Panthers let up one more run in the bottom of the fourth before finally scoring themselves in the top of the sixth inning.
The Eagles weren’t through scoring as they brought in three more runs, ending the game at 11-1.
The Panthers’ offensive struggles were highlighted by the only two hits they recorded from Blaise Vickery and Carson Swinney.
Vickery was the starting pitcher for the Panthers, lasting three innings before Maddox Vickery, Ross Hudson and Jaquan Reeder came in as relievers in the game.
The Panthers had one game to stay alive in the playoffs, but much like the first matchup, Hackleburg struggled to keep runs from coming in for the Eagles.
Hackleburg’s opponents scored their first run early on in the top of the first before the Panthers responded with a run of their own in the bottom of the inning.
The Panthers showed a bit more of a fight from the plate after the Eagles scored another run in the top of the third by scoring three runs themselves.
This would be the last run of the game for Hackleburg as the Eagles would slowly gain ground throughout the game with no offensive response from the Panthers.
The game remained 4-4 until the top of the ninth inning, when the Eagles would score six runs, leaving Hackleburg with little hope of continuing their playoff run.
The Panthers would be unable to produce a walk-off miracle as they bowed out of the playoffs after an impressive run.
In an improved offensive display compared to the first game of the series, Reeder, Blaise Vickery, Ayden Beard, Swinney and Chandler Benford all got hits for the Panthers.
Beard was also on the mound for Hackleburg, lasting seven innings, allowing just six hits and four runs while striking out nine batters.
Benford and Blaise Vickery acted as relief, both throwing one inning each.
Hackleburg Panthers Head Coach Jon McKinney reflected on the year following the game.
“This was a very special year for us. It didn’t end the way that we hoped,” said McKinney.
“I am very proud of everything that this group accomplished. They won Marion County Tournament, Area Championship and made it to the Final Four for the first time since 2007. These young men are great ambassadors for our school and community. They deserve all accomplishments and recognition that comes to them.”
See complete story in the Journal Record.