Opening up the playoffs against the third-ranked Rockwall Heath Hawks, the Lufkin Panthers knew they had quite a mountain to climb in their Class 6A Region II Bi-District series.
On Friday night, the Panthers took the first step up that mountain as they pounded out 17 hits and struck for eight runs in the last two innings of a surprising 10-6 win at Tyler’s Mike Carter Field.
Max Quick delivered a triple, single and three RBI, Dillon McDuffie had a double, two singles and an RBI and Corley delivered three singles as that trio combined for nine of Lufkin’s 17 hits.
Meanwhile Tanner Green battled his way through a rough start, eventually working five innings to get the win on the mound. He allowed five runs, four earned, on seven hits and five walks to go along with two strikeouts.
Dylan Murphy pitched the last two innings in earning the save. He allowed one earned run on a walk with two strikeouts.
Rockwall Heath struck for three runs in the first inning as the first three batters reached on a walk, single and an error before eventually coming around to score.
The Panthers scratched out a run in the second inning as Gesford singled and came around to score on a two-out RBI triple from Green, narrowing the margin to 3-1.
Canaan Smith rocked a solo homer for the Hawks as they extended their lead to 4-1 in the third inning. Rockwall Heath then made it a 5-1 game with a run in the fourth inning.
The Panthers drew closer in the fifth inning when Dillon McDuffie hit an RBI single that narrowed the margin to 5-2.
The Panthers finally broke through with a five-run sixth inning.
Adam Holden and Clayton Corley started the inning with back-to-back singles. Clayton Corley then had an RBI single, narrowing the gap to 5-3.
After Green bunted the runners over, Jonathan Dewberry roped an RBI single. Lufkin tied the game on a squeeze bunt by Davis Powell.
Murphy followed with an RBI single that gave Lufkin its first lead of the game at 6-5. Max Quick ripped an RBI triple that made the score 7-5.
Rockwall Heath answered with a run in the bottom of the inning before Lufkin put up three insurance runs in its final at bat.
Powell got Lufkin back on the board with a sacrifice fly before Quick delivered a two-run single that made it 10-6.
The Hawks got the leadoff runner on base in the seventh inning before Murphy retired the final three batters to secure the win.
Lufkin will look for the sweep today as it takes on Rockwall Heath at 1 at Tyler’s Mike Carter Field. A third game would follow 30 minutes after the conclusion of the second game, if necessary.