Fittingly, the Region 2-AAAAA baseball championship between Lakeside and Evans wasn’t decided until the final batter on Thursday night.
The Panthers scratched out single runs in the sixth and seventh innings to take a 2-0 lead, but Evans had men on second and third with two outs in the bottom of the seventh.
When Spencer Murray’s liner to first finally nestled in the outstretched glove of a leaping Tanner Durand, the Panthers began to celebrate their 2-0 win.
“I’m so excited,” said Panthers starting pitcher Cole Pittman, who struggled to catch his breath. “Our pitching staff’s been dealing this week, our hitting is amazing and the defense behind me was the best I’ve ever had.”
The Panthers (17-7, 7-6 Region 2-AAAAA) started the region tournament as a No. 3 seed and will now enter the GHSA Class AAAAA state tournament as a No. 1 seed playing host to Glynn Academy.
Evans (17-5, 9-4) will get a home game as a No. 2 seed vs. Ware County.
Pittman (6-1) battled the whole game, walking six, but he allowed just three hits in the complete-game effort and worked his way out of jams, including a bases-loaded no-out situation in the third. A wild pitch bounced off the backstop to the catcher who then threw out the runner trying to get back to third for the first out. He then got a liner to right and a strikeout to end the inning.