You only need one word to describe the three-game series between North Lamar and Athens. That word is simply execution. In the two games in which North Lamar defeated the Athens Hornets, they simply executed at the plate or on the mound when they had to. The game they lost, it was Athens that executed better.
Game 1: North Lamar 5 Athens 4
It's easy to say Game 1 wasn't the most dominating game Kevin Dickey has ever pitched in a North Lamar uniform. He was effective though on the mound. Dickey pitched 5 2/3 innings, He allowed four runs on six hits. He walked 7 and struck out 11.
Athens got the scoring started with a bases loaded walk in the first inning. North Lamar would take the lead in hot top of the third inning, though. After Sam Cowling walked, Brayden Steed tripled him home. Steed when then score when Trey Scudder hit a sacrifice fly.
Athens would tie the game up in the bottom of the fourth inning and then would regain the lead in the sixth as they scored two runs more runs off Dickey. Coach Scudder would bring in Junior Wesley Culbertson. Culbertson got a fly out to left to end the inning.
Going to the seventh inning, North Lamar trailed 4-2. Matt Gibbons led off the inning with a double. Cowling advanced him to third with a single and Steed brought him home with another single. After Jacob Roberts struck out, Scudder reached base on a fielder's choice in which Athens didn't record the out.
With the bases loaded, one out and trailing 4-3, Jake Wynn hit the ball hard to center field. Cowling easily scored to tie the game. Steed was thrown out at home trying to take the lead. Scudder would take third on the throw and Wynn would take Second. With Tyler Biard at the plate, the Athens pitcher threw a ball by the catcher, which allowed Scudder to come home and score.
Culbertson would come back out for the 7th and pick up the victory for the Panthers as he shut the door on Athens. With the win, North Lamar takes a 1-0 series lead.
For the first time all post season, the North Lamar Panthers were playing a second game. The previous two weeks had only been one game series so this was a little different.
Matt Gibbons got the ball to start the game for North Lamar. From the very first pitch, Gibbons had trouble getting the ball down in the zone. Pitching only 1 1/3 innings, he gave up seven runs (five earned). He only gave up three hits but he walked four.
Sophomore Seth Adams did a nice job for North Lamar in relief. Adams pitched 3 2/3 innings. He gave up four runs but only two were earned.
On the other side, Athens starter Brandon Boyd had his command working all game. He only allowed two hits the entire game. He walked two and struck out four. The series is now tied 1-1 with game 3 to still to play.
Game 3: North Lamar 4 Athens 3 (8 Innings)
Just as he did in critical games during District play, Jacob Roberts took the mound with confidence and poise on Saturday. With the series tied at one game apiece, Roberts took the ball for game three.
Roberts pitched the entire eight innings for North Lamar. He only gave up three hits, struck out four and walked one. The three runs he gave up were all unearned as North Lamar had five errors in the field during the game.
Athens sent Brandon Boyd back to the hill for game three. After only pitching five innings in the second game, they used him to eat up some more innings.
Once again, Boyd was effective through the first two innings he pitched. The third inning was different, though. Sam Cowling would be hit by a pitch. Brayden Steed would walk and Roberts was also hit by a pitch to load the bases. With two outs and the bases loaded, Trey Scudder hit a double to the gap in right-center that would score Cowling and Steed.
In the fourth inning, with a different pitcher on the mound for Athens, North Lamar would strike again. Kevin Dickey would get the rally going when he was hit by a pitch. Back-to-back singles by Matt Gibbons and Cowling would bring Kevin around to score.
Athens would tie the game in the sixth inning on three hits and three North Lamar errors. North Lamar had their chance in the seventh to win the game as they loaded the bases with two outs. However, Ashton Chaffin hit a grounder back to the pitcher to end the threat.
The Panthers, though, would end the game in the next inning. Austin Exum would reach on an error. Cowling would advance him to second with a single. That would bring up Steed. With a 2-2 count on him, Braydon took the next pitch and drove it down the right field line. It landed fair on the line, which allowed Exum to easily score from second to give the Panthers a walk-off win.
With the win, North Lamar won the series 2-1 and will face Argyle in the Regional Semifinals next weekend. Game 1 will be at 6:30 Friday. Game 2 will be 3:00 on Saturday. If necessary, Game 3 will follow. All games will be at Prosper High School.