Panthers take advantage

BENTON – The Benton Panthers were down early, but came back to defeat rival Sheridan Yellowjackets 6-2 in 7A/6A South Conference action on Friday at Panthers Field. Sophomore lefty Chase Nix threw five shutout innings of hitless relief to earn the win.
“I was real proud of our pitching,” Benton Coach Mark Balisterri said. “Brian (Krikorian) was struggling as far as throwing strikes. They hit it hard a couple times. I feel like we could have stuck with him and been OK, but his pitch count was up for two innings for him and we didn’t want to burn both our starters on Tuesday.
After retiring the first batter he faced, Krikorian gave up a single to left field and an infield single before Sheridan attempted a double steal. Benton third baseman Cameron Spivey tried to put the tag down before he had the ball, which sailed into left field allowing the Yellowjackets to score the first run. A sacrifice fly by Evan Thompson put Sheridan on top 2-0 after one.
Krikorian would get the first two outs in the top of the second before walking the next two batters, but got out of the inning unscathed.
Nix relieved Krikorian in the third inning, and after a one-out walk, Nix retired the next 11 Yellowjackets and would get the win.
“We decided to bring Chase in and that would give us Brian for Friday,” Balisterri said. “It worked out well. Chase came in and didn’t give up a hit the rest of the game. He’ll be able to come back Friday and pitch an inning or two.”
The Panthers (11-1, 2-0 South) got a run back in the bottom of the second when Jared Barker singled to start the inning, went to second on the left-fielder’s bobble and moved to third on a wild pitch. Sophomore Ben Brasuell would get the first of two RBI on the day with a sacrifice fly to get Benton within 2-1.
The Panthers would take advantage of three errors by Sheridan in the third inning to score three unearned runs to take the lead for good, 4-2. Benton scored two insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth on Colten Nix’ RBI single, and Bailey Mitchell would steal third base and score on the catcher’s errant throw to third base for the final tally.
“We had a miscue early in the game and it cost us a couple runs,” Balisterri said. “But we didn’t give up, we didn’t get our heads down, we just fought, battled and scrapped for a couple runs. Our whole game plan was to put pressure on them.”
Barker went 1 for 2 with a run, Williams and Colten Nix each went 1 for 3 with an RBI, Drew Dyer and Spivey each went 1 for 3, and Brasuell went 0 for 1 with two RBI.
“We hung in there, made a change on the mound pretty quick and it gave us a little spark,” Balisterri said. “We got the job done. We got some key hits when we had base runners in scoring position. They turned around and gave us a couple runs on the same scenario that we gave them theirs (error on double steals). It was a good win for us. We’ll take them any way we can get them.”
The Panthers are set to take on Sylvan Hills in Benton (weather permitting) on Thursday before heading to Texarkana to face the Razorbacks in more South action.