After sitting out a two-hour lightning delay, the Lufkin Panthers’ baseball team could never hit its stride as it dropped a pair of games on the second day of the Pete Runnels tournament late Friday night.
In the opening game, the Port Neches-Groves Indians’ Brandon Petix struck out 15 Panthers in a 9-1 runaway victory. In a nightcap that finished near midnight, Lufkin’s late comeback came up just short in a narrow 8-7 setback to the Livingston Lions.
Those two losses ended a previous four-game winning streak for the Panthers while also giving them their first home setbacks of the season.
In the opener, it was all Petix, who overcame a shaky start to silence the Lufkin bats over the final five innings. After allowing a run on three hits in the first two innings, he retired 15 of the final 17 batters that came to the plate and didn’t allow a single hit over the final five frames.
For the game, he struck out 15 batters and had multiple strikeouts in five of seven innings. He walked two batters while giving up three hits.
That was enough to outduel Haylen Green, who was effective on the mound in six innings of work. He allowed six runs, four earned, on eight hits with two strikeouts and two walks.
Davis Powell worked the final inning, giving up three earned runs on three hits with a strikeout and a walk.
In the early going, it looked like Lufkin may be able to get some breathing room.
After Green retired the side in order in the top of the first inning, Lufkin used a two-out rally to get on the board.
With two outs, Dylan Murphy singled, Max Quick was hit by a pitch and Tanner Green drew a walk to load the bases. Clayton
Gesford delivered an RBI single to put the Panthers on top 1-0, but the Panthers left the bases loaded after Petix’s third strikeout of the inning.
That missed opportunity proved to turn out costly for the Pack.
With two outs in the second inning, a potential inning-ending groundout was missed by the third baseman, allowing PNG to score a pair of runs and take a 2-1 lead.
Lufkin’s Jonathan Dewberry hit a two-out triple in the second inning but was stranded at third. That proved to be the last Panthers’ runner that reached scoring position.
The Indians expanded that lead to 3-1 in the third inning when Nathan Vidrine hit an RBI single.
Vidrine helped PNG open things up in the fifth inning when he hit a two-out RBI single that was followed by a Holden Lane RBI single, making it 5-1.
Haden Guerra helped push the final run across against Green on an RBI single in the sixth inning.
The Indians scored their final two runs of the game on a two-run single by Braxton Boudain and a Guerra RBI single, making the final 9-1.
Gesford led Lufkin with a single and an RBI, Dewberry added a triple and Murphy had a single.
In the second game, Lufkin was able to get its offense on track but couldn’t slow down the Livingston offense.
Lufkin scored three runs in the fourth inning but didn’t have quite enough to cap off the comeback before dropping an 8-7 decision in a game that was called after four innings.
Alex Barnett pitched 1 2/3 innings for the Panthers, allowing three earned runs on no hits with three walks and a strikeout.
Charlie Henson pitched 2 1/3 innings, giving up five runs, four earned, on four hits with two walks and a strikeout.
Dewberry led Lufkin’s bats with a pair of singles. Quick had a triple and three RBI, Gesford had a double and two RBI, and Dillon McDuffie contributed a single.
For the second straight game, Lufkin started fast for an early lead. Dewberry started the game with a leadoff single and scored on a passed ball for a 1-0 lead. Murphy reached on an error and later came around to score on a passed ball for a 2-0 advantage.
That lead didn’t last long as Livingston took the lead with three runs in the second inning then made it 4-2 with a third-inning run.
The Panthers knotted the game in the bottom of the third when Gesford delivered a two-run double to make it 4-4.
However, Livingston had the answer with four runs in the fourth inning with the help of a pair of hits, a Lufkin error and a hit batter, making the score 8-4.
The Panthers didn’t go away without a fight as the Pack loaded the bases before an out was recorded in the bottom of the inning.
Quick put Lufkin on the verge of tying the game when Quick delivered a three-run triple to narrow the margin to 8-7.
However, Livingston avoided further damage with a pair of strikeouts and a groundout before the game was called after four innings.
Lufkin fell to 7-5 on the season with the two losses.