TOLEDO – After Otsego hit a lead-off double in the bottom of the first, it looked rough for the Delta Panthers. However, the Panthers battled back and by the end of the day, Delta claimed a 4-1 win over the Knights in a game played Saturday at Fifth Third Field in Toledo, home of the Mud Hens.
“It was a great day and great weather,” Delta coach Damon Mattimore said of the trip east. “We walked away with the win, it couldn’t be any better.”
David Silva opened the bottom of the first by ripping a double down the third-base line that hooked into the area where the tarp is kept. Austin Meier was hit by a pitch to put two on, and things looked really bad for the Panthers.
After a strikeout, Meier was caught between first and second. Battling in the rundown, he stayed in the pickle long enough to allow Silva to score from second. A ground out ended the inning and Delta trailed 1-0.
“They are a good baseball club,” Mattimore said of the Knights. “Somewhere down the line, we’ll have to see them, probably in the sectional. We gave it (a run) up but came right back and scored on them.”
The score stayed that way for four batters into the second. Cole Mattin reached on a one-out single, moved to second on a ground out, and scored on an error that allowed Logan Echler to reach base.
They took the lead in the next inning when Gabe Freeman hit a one-out single, stole second, moved to third on a ground out and scored on a single by Robby Arredondo.
“The kids are starting to buy into the hitting early in the count thing,” Mattimore said of the timely hitting. “Right now we’re in a good spot. We’ll see where it takes us in the tournament.”
Freeman was also involved in the other two runs the Panthers scored in the game. He drew a lead-off walk in the fifth, immediately stole second and scored on a single by Jason Beverly. Arredondo also drove in Freeman in the seventh after he again drew a lead-off walk.
“He’s a big part of the team, but he’s also a team kid,” Mattimore said of Freeman.
Freeman also started on the mound and worked into the fourth inning until a pitch count took him out of the game. He settled down after the first two batters, retiring nine in a row before a walk to Will Varner in the third. Freeman left with a 2-1 count to Corey Hollar in the fourth, where Travis Dunning took over. Dunning finished the walk, and Hollar moved up on a bad pickoff move that allowed Varner to go to third.
Dunning coaxed a ground out to get out of trouble. A single and two walks also loaded the bases in the fifth, but again Dunning came back to get out of trouble, this time with a strikeout.
“We got out of those with not giving up anything,” stated Mattimore on the defensive stops.
Dunning went the final 3 1/3 innings to get the win. He allowed one hit, walked three and had four strikeouts. Freeman went the first 3 2/3 innings and allowed the run on just one hit with two walks and six strikeouts.
Arredondo finished with two of Delta’s six hits in the win.
The Panthers (9-6) play Evergreen Monday in Northwest Ohio Athletic League play. They are home with Archbold Thursday.
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