If Franklin Road Academy wants to claim its first baseball state championship since 2000, the Panthers will have to do it the hard way.
The Panthers fell 6-4 to Evangelical in the first round of the Division II-A tournament on Tuesday.
FRA (29-6) smacked 12 hits, including a two-run home run by junior third baseman Keeling Hunter in the fifth inning, but the Panthers stranded the tying run on base in the sixth inning as a Panthers’ comeback attempt fell short.
“We just gave up too many runs early,” FRA coach George Weicker said. “But, you know, that’s the way it goes. We didn’t play well enough to win.”
The Eagles (24-16) jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the second, scoring all four runs in a two-out rally that started when a Sadler Goodwin base hit to center field scored Conner Graves and Parker Davidson.
Riley Watkins doubled down the right field line to drive in Goodwin, and later scored on a single to right by Patrick Snipes.
Eagles first baseman Brent Rooker homered to center in the third to extend the ECS lead to 5-0.
“It was key to get out on top early,” ECS coach Ryan Porter said. “Everybody was a little nervous with it being the first game, but I feel like we set the tone well.”
Easton Cornelius doubled home two runs for FRA in the sixth to cut the deficit to 6-4, but Joe Mattson and Hunter struck out in consecutive at-bats, leaving the tying run on second and ending the threat.
FRA starting pitcher Chance Bouldin was chased after 1-2/3 innings, giving up four runs and earning the loss.
The Panthers will play Jackson Christian at 10 a.m. on Wednesday in an elimination game.