By Chris Parsons / Staff Writer
KNOX CENTRAL — The Knox Central Panthers recovered from a disappointing loss to Pulaski County Friday to come away with a 7-5 win over Clay County Saturday.
Knox Central fell behind early, trailing 5-0 heading into the bottom of the third inning, but scored seven unanswered in the third and fourth combined to grab the win.
Jake Stewart led the Panthers with a 4-for-4 effort, including three RBIs, while Jake Nelson went 3-for-4 with three doubles, an RBI and two runs scored. Braden Imel chipped in three RBIs in a 1-for-3 effort to help the cause.
Seth Hill was credited with the win after he came on in relief in the top of the fourth and gave up just one hit over the final four innings, striking out two in the process.
The win was the second in three tries this season over the Tigers, a team that brought home a 13th Region Championship in 2011 and lost to eventual champion South Laurel in the semifinals last year.
Knox Central coach Brandon Hillard said the win was a big confidence boost for a young Panthers team he says has matured as the season has progressed.
“This is a good Clay County team and they still have some kids that were a part of that region title team, so they have some experience as well,” Hillard said. “It was good to see the offense finally show up, especially after getting blanked the night before against Pulaski County.
“To pull out a couple of wins against a team with the success that Clay County has had is what you look for out of a young team,” he added. “Hopefully we can continue to play well as the season winds down and put ourselves in a good situation as we get better.”
After falling behind 5-0, the Panthers scored four runs in the third on a rally that started with an RBI double by Nelson to make the score 5-1. Imel came through with an RBI single to trim the gap to 5-2 and Stewart doubled to centerfield to make the score 5-4.
Knox Central picked up where it left off in the fourth inning after Hunter McRight and Imel walked consecutively to score Trevor Sanborn and Nelson, giving the Panthers the 6-5 lead.
An RBI single by Stewart put Hillard’s squad on top 7-5 and the lead held up thanks to the effort of Hill.
Knox Central will return to action Tuesday when it travels to Corbin for a 5:30 p.m. start time.
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