By Jeffery Armstrong
After getting one hit and losing 1-0 to Region 4-AAAA foe Northgate on Wednesday, the Forest Park Panthers baseball team found out that swinging the bats well can produce a better result.
The No. 4 Panthers produced eight hits Friday night, cruising to a 12-2 shellacking over the depleted North Clayton Eagles in a game that was called after five innings due to the 10-run mercy rule.
"I'm glad we hit the ball tonight," said Panthers shortstop Josh Froneberger, who went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and three RBIs. "It's nice that we scored tonight n that shows other teams that we can hit after all."
North Clayton (1-9) played Friday's contest without several of its starters, who were benched due to violating team rules. Several players in the Eagle lineup were called up from the junior varsity team and it showed in the field. The Eagles committed seven errors in the game, which took place at Forest Park in front of several frenzied fans.
Forest Park (10-3, 4-3 in region play) took advantage of the North Clayton mistakes, scoring six of its 12 runs off errors.
This game was basically over after the first inning, when Forest Park jumped out to a 4-0 lead off Eagles starting pitcher Kevin Battle. Panthers catcher B.J. McKinney (2-for-2, three runs, one RBI) and Froneberger each had RBI singles in that inning.
Battle lasted only 1 1/3 innings, giving up seven runs (only two earned) on three hits. He walked six and struck out one. Jamal Moreland came in from the infield and pitched 2 2/3 innings, giving up five runs (two earned) on five hits. He struck out five and walked one.
Panthers pitcher Gerry Hinrichsen had a good game on the mound and at the plate, going all five innings and giving up two unearned runs. He walked none and struck out nine batters and scattered three hits. Hinrichsen was 2-for-2 at the plate with a run scored and an RBI.
All but two Forest Park starters scored runs in this game and one reserve, Randy "Smoke" Hambrick, got his first hit of the year. The Panthers head into spring break feeling pretty good, but they know some more work needs to be done.
"We know we've got to hit; we have to get our bats going each game," said McKinney. "I'm glad our bats woke up tonight. We need them Monday against Sandy Creek."