The Journal Express
Knoxville — The Knoxville Panther baseball team sought and obtained vindication of a 13-3 loss to Oskaloosa earlier in the season. The Panthers walked off with both games of a double header Wednesday night in Knoxville.
After Jared McClung sealed the 5-4 victory over the Indians with a walk-off double in game one, game two ended in similar dramatic fashion.
In the top of the seventh, Oskaloosa was down 3-2. Kevin Woodhouse struck out batter number one before batter number two reached on an error. Woodhouse racked up another strikeout before Oskaloosa was able to get a grounder down the left field line to score the tying run.
When the Panthers got back up to bat, McClung was walked on four pitches. Brandon Iddings came in to pinch run.
A sacrifice bunt attempt went awry, as the ball bounced in the air, back into the catcher's glove. The Indians were able to double up Iddings.
Calyn Bumgardner came to the plate and drew the second walk of the inning to bring Jac Agan to the plate. As Agan battled the Oskaloosa pitcher, Bumgardner used his speed and base-running talents to reach third.
On a 3-2 pitch, Agan was able to drop a looper into left field to score Bumgardner and give the Panthers their second walk-off victory of the night over a conference rival.
"That was great to win two close ones," Coach Joel Johnson said. "We lost close ones in extra inning games earlier in the year."
Johnson was proud of the "gutty" performances of his team, including pitchers and batters. Throughout game two, Knoxville batters made strong contact to take some baseballs deep into the field, but most found their way in to Indian gloves.
Oskaloosa was ahead 2-0 until the fifth, when the Panthers started putting the ball on the ground. The Indians struggled to field them.
McClung got things started in the fifth by reaching first on a ball bobbled by the shortstop. Bumgardner followed that with a slap to third that could not be fielded. Both runners were driven home on a huge shot to center by Brady Robinson to tie the game.
Nolan Wallace was able to score the third run with a sacrifice grounder. Strong defense from the Panthers held Oskaloosa at bay for the majority of the game. Third baseman Kaden Loscher and first baseman Jake Kendall connected on two strong plays in the sixth to stop the Indians.
Woodhouse struck out six batters in a complete game outing.
"That was not...picture perfect Woodhouse throwing it, but he gutted it out and got it done," Johnson said.
Wednesday's victories secured a second place finish in the Little Hawkeye Conference for the Panthers.
"A couple of games, extra inning games during the year, otherwise we could have challenged for that conference title," Johnson said. "It's good to be up there towards the top instead of near the bottom where we were a year ago."
The Panthers' regular season will come to a close Friday night with a double-header at Fairfield. The team's first district game will be Friday, July 19, vs. Dallas Center-Grimes at Ballard.