LATTA — The Latta Panthers awakened from a game-long slumber at the plate and needed every one of the seven runs they scored in the bottom of the sixth inning to edge Byng 7-6 in a wild contest Friday evening at Panther Park.
Latta, ranked No. 3 in Class 2A, improved to 14-4, while Byng dropped to 8-15.
The game was a strange pitcher’s duel through five and a half innings. Latta ace Tyler Dean had dominated the BHS offense with 10 strikeouts and no walks, while allowing just one hit through six strong innings.
Byng hurler Gage Fuller tossed five no-hit innings with three strikeouts. But Fuller had hit a whopping eight Latta batters and issued two walks during that span.
Still, thanks to Fuller and the Byng defense stranding nine Latta baserunners through five innings, the Pirates led 2-0 after scoring a single run in the second and another run in the top of the sixth. Both Byng runs were unearned.
“Both teams did nothing offensively. We made a couple of mistakes and they were able to capitalize on them,” said veteran Latta head coach Eddie Collins.
Latta finally got to Fuller and reliever Nolan Feazle in the big six-inning outburst. That uprising included two-run singles by Dawson Dansby and Jake Williams and RBI hits by Kyle Rogers and Jacob Savage.
“We had numerous opportunities. We had a bad approach at the plate. Their guy battled and did a lot of things to keep us off the board. We finally had that one inning where some things happened for us,” Collins said.
With Latta leading 7-2, Byng’s Parker Presley led off the top of the seventh with a base hit. Dean then recorded his 11th and 12th strikeouts before Gage Fuller walked. Kyle Rogers relieved Dean and surrendered an RBI double to Feazle and a three-run homer to Tyler Bargus — his first career varsity home run — and all of the sudden the Pirates were within 7-6.
Rogers ended the game with a strikeout.
“I’d rather win like that than to lose,” Collins said. “Their guys played well. I take my hat off to them. We made a couple of bad pitches and they didn’t miss. Everything that happened today is because they played well.”
Dean, who improved to 4-1 on the spring, now has 46 strikeouts in 29.1 innings of work.
“I thought Tyler was razor sharp. He just kind of ran out of gas. This was the hottest, most humid day we’ve had,” Collins said. “You can’t ask your starter to go throw any better than he did. I thought he had exceptional stuff.”
Byng head coach Bubba Tamez was pleased with his team’s ability to hold Latta in check throughout most of the game.
“I’m really proud of our kids and their effort. We were able to battle out of several jams, but they are a really good team and in the sixth they got to us and before you know it, we had given up a seven-spot,” he said. “Our kids showed a lot of grit to battle back in the seventh and cut the lead to one. It was a great effort, we just came up a little bit short.”
Latta was at Class A No. 1 Silo Monday and hosts Washington at 4:30 p.m. today.
Byng was at Blanchard Monday and hosts the Class 4A powerhouse at 4:30 p.m. today in a pair of District 4A-3 contests.