Knoxville — The Knoxville Panther baseball team stayed tough and earned a "big win" at home Wednesday night, 7-4 over the Norwalk Warriors.
"That is a good team," Coach Joel Johnson said after the game of Norwalk. "A good school. An awesome win."
Ross Shelford was on the hill for the Panthers. After shutting the Warriors down in the top of the first, he got his offense started with a with a single. Kevin Woodhouse joined him on the base paths and both were driven in on a Jared McClung double. Panthers were up 2-0 at the end of the first.
Norwalk was able to tie things up and take the lead in the third. With two outs and the score 2-1, first baseman Jake Kendall tagged Norwalk's Bailey Scott before he reached safely. The umpire called Scott safe, which drew a strong reaction from the crowd and Johnson. After discussing the the matter, the umpire's decision stood and the runner was able to take the base. (Johnson offers an explanation of what happened in video accompanying this article.)
Scott eventually scored before Shelford was able to get out of the inning on a short hopper back to the mound. Norwalk led 3-2 when Knoxville came back to the plate.
The Panthers did not let that get to them. Shelford was able to lead off with another single and was driven in on a powerful triple to center by Tony Salato to tie the game, 3-3. Salato then scored on a Woodhouse ground out to allow the Panthers to retake the lead. Kendall added a double to the Panthers' half of the inning.
Knoxville batters did not let up when they returned to the batter's box in the bottom of the fourth. Jac Agan was able to reach on a fielder's choice before being driven in by a Shelford double to put the Panthers up, 5-3. With two outs in the inning, the Norwalk center fielder bobbled a Salato fly ball, enabling Salato to reach and sending Shelford home.
Woodhouse piled on a triple to deep left center, to send Salato's pinch runner, Justin Lenger, home to put the Panthers up 7-3.
Four consecutive singles in the top of the fifth allowed Norwalk to get one more runner home. Defense took care of everything from there.
Norwalk threatened with a pair of singles in the top of the sixth. The Panthers were able to turn two on a fly ball and a runner's failure to tag to get out of the inning.
Woodhouse came on in relief after Shelford gave up a single to start off the top of the seventh. The Warriors went down for the count after that. Johnson had great things to say about Shelford's pitching efforts.
"He just did an awesome job," Johnson said of Shelford.
The Panthers host Newton tonight in a double header, rescheduled from a rainout earlier this week. After Wednesday night's game, the Panthers are at 8-6 on the season and in third place in the Iowa Conference.