Panthers tee off on county rival

LAKESIDE 14, EVANS 2

Lakeside baseball coaches and players haven't been shy about the team's goals this season.

The Panthers want to advance as far as they did a season ago and then farther.

First they must defend the Region 3-AAAA title. The Panthers began their region schedule Wednesday by defeating Evans, 14-2 after six innings on the road.

The teams finished 1-2 in the region a season ago and both advanced to the Class AAAA quarterfinals.

Lakeside's long-term sights are on the state semifinals. Its focus Wednesday appeared to be just beyond Evans' right-field fence.

Panthers batters cranked four home runs in the first three innings Wednesday to spur the romp.

"We just hit the ball well, saw the ball well," said Kody Belcher, who hit one of the Panthers' home runs.

Evans won the first meeting between the teams in 2009. Lakeside overcame its slow start to win the title.

The Panthers (5-0) beat rival Greenbrier to open the season and swept their two opponents at the Knights' Diamond Day games this past weekend.

Panthers senior Zach Hayden launched two home runs his first two at-bats. The first was a solo shot off the scoreboard in the first that followed a two-run shot from Jeffrey Stoner. Hayden and Belcher homered off Matt Blume in the third.

Michael Farr replaced Blume after the Panthers scored three more during the third. Evans intentionally walked Hayden. And Farr struck out the first three batters he faced. It would take another couple innings for the Panthers to tee off again. They strung five consecutive hits in the sixth and their first six batters reached safely during the inning.

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