Sterlington 4, Oak Grove 1
Casey Sutton held Oak Grove scoreless over the final six innings as Sterlington upended the visiting Tigers 4-1 Wednesday afternoon at Panther Park.
"That's kind of what we expect from Casey," Sterlington coach Bucky Chandler said. "Being one of our senior leaders, we know he can come out and win a big game for us. This was a real quality win for us. Now, hopefully, we came move up a couple of spots in the power rankings."
Oak Grove (14-5) entered the game No. 2 in the LHSAA's Class 1A power rankings, while the Panthers (14-8) came in at No. 11 in Class 2A.
Martin Wyatt led off the game with a double off the base of the right-center wall and Jackson Wyly blooped an opposite-field single to right. Two batters, two hits, runners at the corners.
Next up, Cole Pippin grounded into a fielder's choice. With the infield at double play depth, the Panthers conceded the run.
That was all the Tigers would get, though, as Sutton (6-0) allowed only three hits and five baserunners — none of which advanced past second base — the rest of the afternoon.
Four of the games five runs were scored in the first inning.
Taylor Lockwood drove the second pitch of the Panthers' half of the first over the right-center wall to tie the game.
Austin Mills followed with a base hit to right and scored the go-ahead run on Kyle Vandergracht's double to the right-center gap. Three batters, three hits, two runs. Like Sutton, Oak Grove lefthander Trey Auger would settle down after a shaky start.
Cleanup batter Kyle Dolecheck grounded out to first for the first out, moving Vandergracht to third. After Austin Haman walked and took second on a wild pitch, Elliott Courson tapped an RBI groundout to third, bringing the score to 3-1.
That was more than enough for Sutton, who won for the sixth time in as many decisions.
"They jumped out on us at the start, but Lockwood led off with the home run and our next five hitters put together good at bats," Chandler said. "I thought that helped Sutton get in the zone on the mound and I thought it was probably the best defensive game we have played."
Cory Wiggins singled to start the Oak Grove third, but was left stranded at second.
After yielding a leadoff to double to Auger in the fourth, Sutton struck out the side.
Auger buckled down after the first, as well, holding the Panthers to two hits — singles by Dolecheck and Mills — over the final six frames.
Sterlington was able to put an unearned insurance marker on the board in the fifth when Mills punched a leadoff single up the middle, motored to third on an errant pickoff attempt and scored on a wild pitch.
Sutton went on to retire eight in a row, before Auger, the Tigers' lefty swinging cleanup batter, pulled a two-out double down the right field line with two away in the sixth.
Oak Grove brought the tying run to the plate in the seventh. Colby Ashley was safe on a one-out error and Cory Wiggins drew a one-out walk — Sutton's only free pass of the game. Moments later, Sutton sealed the verdict with his 12th strikeout.
Continuing a five-game homestand, the Panthers resume District 2-2A play at home against Jonesboro-Hodge on Thursday at 6 p.m.
Notes: The fast-paced game was played in one-hour, 38 minutes. … Sterlington is on a season-best four-game winning streak. … Mills went 2-for-2 with two singles, a walk and two runs scored. … Sterlington's top four batters were a collective 5-for-11, while the 5-9 spots were 0-for-14. … Auger punched out nine and walked two.