When visiting Sidney Lanier scored three runs in the top of the first inning against Smiths Station in a first-round Class 6A playoff game, reactions in the Panthers dugout varied.
Some, like Marc Skinner experienced some level of shock. Others, like Tyler Lynn didn’t worry much about it.
The response from everyone was the same, however.
Smiths Station came alive for a two-game sweep, winning game one 15-5 and game two 12-0.
With the sweep, the Panthers will advance to the second round of the state playoffs where they will meet the winner of Lee-Montgomery and Auburn. The opening games of their best-of-three series were postponed and will be played on Saturday.
According to Britton, Smiths Station will host the second round regardless of the winner.
Britton wasn’t looking ahead to the next round on Friday, however. He said he was happy to make it through this round.
“When they scored three in the first, I said, ‘Wow,’” coach Clinton Britton said after the game. “But (pitcher) Kyle (Drury) settled in and we busted loose in the second.”
To say the Panthers (33-7) busted loose may be a bit of an understatement.
Trailing 3-0 in the bottom of the second, Smiths Station sent 13 batters to the plate, recording seven hits and nine runs. It gave two runs back in the top of the third to close the gap to 9-5, but that was it for the rest of the night. In the final seven innings the two teams played, including the second game, the Panthers outscored Lanier 17-0.
“I think we overlooked them a little bit,” Skinner said, noting that after the second his team settled in. “(The nine-run inning) calmed our nerves.”
Skinner’s nerves were fine in the second game, as he tossed four shutout innings before giving way to Brynn Belcher in the fifth. Over his four innings of work, Skinner allowed just two hits, only one of which left the infield, and struck out 10. As a unit, Smiths Station pitchers recorded 11 of 15 outs via strikeout in the second game.
“He looked good,” Britton said of Skinner. “We like to throw our lefty first, then come in with Skinner. It magnifies his fastball, and he shut them down.”
His fastball, which already comes in at 90 miles per hour, was too much for the Lanier batters who never could catch up with it.
“I felt good,” Skinner said. “I felt like I was throwing hard.”
At the plate, right fielder Tyler Lynn was on the ball all night long. Hitting leadoff, he went 4 for 4 with two triples, two RBIs and six runs scored over the course of the two games.
Britton praised Lynn’s performance after the game.
“Tyler’s a tremendous hitter,” he said. “He’s just an all-around exciting player to watch.”
Lynn said he put in extra work this week to prepare for the playoffs.
“We got the week off, so I just worked hard (hitting) this week,” he said.
Skinner and Uylesses Fluellen led the way in game two. Skinner was 2 for 2 with three RBIs, and Fluellen was 1 for 1 with three RBIs.
Drury pitched all five innings and struck out six in game one to get the win. Skinner got the win in game two.
Skinner said after this round, his team isn’t going to overlook any opponents going forward.
“We kept saying all week: ‘Don’t overlook them,’ but I still think we did,” he said. “We learned our lesson, though.”
David Mitchell, 706-571-8571; Follow David on Twitter @leprepsports.
Friday at Smiths Station
Lanier 302 00—5 8 4
Smiths 091 14—15 10 0
WP—Kyle Drury. LP—Luis Ocana. Leading hitters—Lanier, Clarence Jones 1 for 2, HR, 2 RBIs, Brandon Harris 2 for 3, 1 RBI; Smiths Station, Tyler Lynn 3 for 3, 3 Rs, 2 RBIs, Nick Watford, 1 for 2, 2 Rs, 2 RBIs, Anfernee Moffett, 2 for 2, 2 RBIs.
Smiths 334 20—12 13 1
Lanier 000 00—0 3 1
WP—Marc Skinner. LP—Carlos Ocana. Leading hitters—Smiths Station, Skinner 2 for 2, 3 RBIs, Uylesses Fluellen 1 for 1, 3 RBIs. Records—Smiths Station, 31-7. Next—Smiths Station vs. Lee-Montgomery/Auburn.