CHILLICOTHE – At one point during Tuesday night’s contest between Southeastern and Vinton County, a steady rain dispersed over an already soggy infield dirt.
But a six-run fifth inning that the Panthers mustered up was the true catalyst in opening the floodgates in their 9-2 non-conference win at home.
The victory for the Panthers (2-1, 0-1 Scioto Valley Conference) hurled them back on the winning track after an 8-3 loss to Adena on Monday night.
“Last night was an emotional game for us,” Southeastern coach John Evans said. “We played one of the top programs in our conference and we were playing right with them but let it slip away.
“To try and get back up for a game the very next day is sometimes a difficult task. But we put a big inning together tonight, put the bat on the baseball and went you put the ball in play, good things tend to happen.”
In contrast, Vinton County had trouble making solid contact with ball all night long as as they faced Southeastern starter Cody Hendershot (1-0). The senior southpaw held the Vikings to just two runs on five hits in five innings of work.
“Cody beared down and pitched a good ballgame,” Evans said. “In the first inning, he was having some trouble with his control. But he persevered through that and gave me five good innings, allowing just two runs. After that first inning, he made (the Vikings) put the ball in play and our defense stood up to the challenge and made the plays necessary to get the win.”
In that first inning, Vinton County was able to string together two hits and a walk to load the bases. After getting the second out of the inning, Hendershot walked Dakota Hashman to allow the first run to cross the plate.
Southeastern answered back with a run of their own in the bottom half of the inning thanks to junior center fielder Justin Dye, who knocked in lead-off hitter Brandon Triplett, tying the score at one.
The Panthers’ defense would hold in the top half of the second inning before their offense tacked on two more runs in the bottom half. After shortstop Owen Diehl was hit by a pitch, Hendershot reached on an error. Both runners advanced one base before freshman catcher Carson Stauffer drove in Diehl while Hendershot later scored on a throwing error.
Neither team would score again until the top of the fifth when Vikings’ third baseman Bo McIntire hit a solo home run off the left field foul pole, cutting the Panthers’ lead to one run, 3-2.
Southeastern responded with an explosive fifth inning that featured 10 batters taking their turns at the dish.
Alec Pinkerton and Dye led off the inning with back-to-back singles before the Vikings would record the first out. Diehl then drove an RBI single up the middle, followed by another RBI single via Hendershot, making it 5-2.
Diehl and Hendershot would come around to score on an errant throw before Stauffer knocked in his second run of the game, plating Rex Hartman. Stauffer also would score in the inning — thanks to yet another Vikings’ error — to round out the final score.
“This team is going to make it or break it on the offensive side,” Evans said. “The guys that we put out there on the mound typically throw strikes. So when we put those types of innings together (like the six-run fifth) and get up to the plate with the right approach, things tend to go our way.”
While Hendershot picked up the win, Vinton County starter Austin Ward suffered the loss, going five innings and giving up six earned runs on eight hits.
Dye finished the night at the plate going 2-4 with an RBI as Hendershot mirrored his center fielder’s performance, going 2-4 with an RBI as well. Stauffer finished the game at 1-3 with two RBIs.
For Vinton County, McIntire went 2-4 with the bomb and the RBI, while Ward collected two hits and scored a run.
Southeastern will be in action once again Wednesday, as they travel to Huntington for both teams’ second SVC contest of the season.