Panthers edge Bobcats
Mike Self FCT Sports Editor
SHEFFIELD - Steven Lacey turned in the pitching performance of his life on Thursday, but it wasn't enough to lead Phil Campbell to a win as the Bobcats fell to Class 1A, No. 2 Hackleburg 2-1 on the final day of the TimesDaily Classic.
Lacey, a freshman righthander, held hard-hitting Hackleburg to just three hits in a complete game, striking out five and walking two.
The Panthers (16-2) scored an unearned run in the top of the second inning and then broke a 1-1 tie with a run in the top of the seventh.
In between, Lacey was dominant. After walking Patrick Raper with no outs in the second inning, Lacey retired 16 consecutive batters until Justin Raper singled between third and short with one out in the seventh.
The freshman hurler pitched ahead in the count all day, mixing in a sharp-breaking curve with a well-located fastball to keep the Panthers off balance.
During his streak of setting down 16 straight, Lacey struck out five and induced two pop-outs, five fly-outs, three groundouts and a line-out.
The Bobcats (11-6) backed up Lacey with solid defensive play for most of the day.
With runners at second and third and only one out in the top of the first, Hackleburg's Corbette Davis hit a high chopper to short.
Senior Aaron Voyles fielded the ball on a charge, tagged the runner heading for third and fired to first to complete a sparkling double play.
Griffin Harris and Matt Thomas also played flawless defense in center field and left field, respectively, handling five chances between them.
Phil Campbell's defense did have a brief lapse in the top of the second inning that led to Hackleburg's first run.
After Justin Raper led off with a double and advanced to third on a wild pitch, Patrick Raper drew a walk to put runners at the corners with none out.
The Panthers then attempted a double steal, and catcher Randy Cochran's throw to second sailed into center field as there might have been some miscommunication between Voyles and second baseman Jonathan Dill.
Justin Raper scored on the play to give Hackleburg a 1-0 lead.
Hackleburg starter C.J. Ford made sure it stayed that way through the first four innings.
The young lefty held Phil Campbell scoreless on two hits, striking out three and walking three before giving way to Justin Raper to start the bottom of the fifth.
The Bobcats quickly got to Raper for an unearned run, tying the game 1-1.
Dill reached on an error to lead off, and Thomas sacrificed him to second.
Raper retired Voyles on a comebacker for the second out, but Harris drove an opposite-field double over the leftfielder's head to score Dill with the tying run.
As it turned out, that would be the only hit Phil Campbell could manage against Raper. He retired the last seven men he faced to earn the win.
After Lacey retired Davis on a grounder back to the mound to open the seventh, Raper singled to left to give the Panthers their first baserunner since the second inning.
Raper promptly stole second and then moved to third on a wild pitch.
Patrick Raper followed with a grounder to short, and Voyles' throw to the plate was a split-second too late as Justin Raper scored the go-ahead run.
Thomas finished 1-for-2 with a walk and a stolen base, and Harris and Cochran each went 1-for-3.
Eric Glasgow walked and stole a base.
Justin Raper had two hits and scored both runs for Hackleburg. He also struck out three in three innings of relief to get the win.