By BOB FORREST
LATTA — After being washed out of a full week of baseball, Latta and Stonewall looked like two teams who needed to play when they faced off in a doubleheader Friday.
Latta ace Kolbie Brown overcame a shaky start and dominated the Longhorns in an 8-0 run rule victory in the opener, but the Panthers’ Jekyll-and-Hyde defense haunted them in a 10-5 Stonewall win in Game 2. The split left Latta — the three-time defending Class 2A spring champion and ranked No. 8 to start the season — at 3-4 and Stonewall at 5-5.
Latta 8, Stonewall 0
Brown (2-1) surrendered hits to two of the first three Stonewall batters in the game, and another reached base when catcher Taylor Whitis couldn’t handle a third strike, but Whitis threw out Stonewall leadoff hitter Jared Pharr attempting to steal second, and Brown retired Brandon Ross on a pop fly to first base and struck out Seth Skokos to end the inning.
Stonewall also threatened in the fourth and fifth, but Brown struck out the side after J. P Maples’ leadoff double (the Longhorns’ only hit after the first) in the fourth and struck out Jake Munday with a runner at third to end the fifth. Brown finished with 11 strikeouts in five innings of work — including 10 of the final 14 batters he faced — and walked two.
“Kolbie pitched really well after that first inning,” Latta coach Eddie Collins said. “He was in command most of the day.”
Latta gave Brown all the support he needed in a four-run first inning against Stonewall ace Bo Scribner. The rally began with a one-out walk to Dalton Brown and RBI singles by Jay Husband and Kolbie Brown to make it 2-0, and Kolbie Brown and Kory Hayes — who reached on an infield hit with two outs — both scored on wild pitches.
The Panthers added four more runs in the fourth off Munday (who relieved Scribner to start the second) on a one-out single by Roy Terry, a two-out RBI single by Whitis, a walk to Dalton Brown and a three-run opposite-field homer by Husband. Kolbie Brown then ended the game on the run rule when he worked around a leadoff walk to Ryan Deason to pitch a scoreless top of the fifth.
Latta managed just six hits off Scribner and Munday, but Husband drove in four runs with his two hits, and the Panthers bunched three hits in each of their four-run innings.
Maples, who was 5-for-6 in the doubleheader and got the win with a complete-game effort on the mound in game two, had two of Stonewall’s three hits in the opener.
Stonewall 10, Latta 5
Maples was a one-man wrecking crew in the nightcap with a double, triple, four RBIs and a solid effort on the mound that included seven strikeouts. Four of Latta’s five runs came in the final three innings, after Stonewall had built an 8-1 lead.
The Panthers scored a first-inning run on Kolbie Brown’s RBI single to plate pinch runner Michael Ofsak, but Stonewall took the lead for good with two unearned runs off tough-luck loser Husband (0-1) in the third.
Husband, who surrendered just one earned run in a solid six-inning relief stint against Guthrie at the Ardmore Wooden Bat Festival last weekend, struck out Wendell Taylor and retired Cole Carter on a comebacker to the mound to start the third, but Dalton Brown booted Jared Pharr’s potential inning-ending grounder to short. Munday then walked, Pharr stole third and scored as Munday advanced on a throwing error by Whitis, and Munday scored on Maples’ double down the left-field line.
Dalton Brown relieved Husband to start the fourth, and Stonewall jumped on the sophomore righthander for six runs on just three hits to put the game away.
Bronson Gore was hit by a pitch leading off, Jake Williams reached on an infield hit and Wendell Taylor walked to load the bases, and Cole Carter made it 3-1 with an opposite-field single to right. Munday was hit by a pitch with two outs to force home Williams with the second run of the inning, then Maples cleared the bases with a triple to right-center and scored himself to make it 8-1 when Latta right fielder Steven Reed’s throw bounced past Husband at third.
Stonewall scored another run in the fourth off Terry on Scribner’s one-out bloop single and Taylor’s two-out RBI double down the right-field line, and Maples was within one strike of ending the game on the run rule three times after retiring the first two batters he faced in the bottom of the fifth. Whitis, who walked on a 3-2 pitch, scored a run on an error to make it 9-2 and keep the game going, however, and Maples hit Husband with a pitch to force in another run.
After Stonewall increased the lead to 10-3 in the top of the seventh on a leadoff single by Pharr, a groundout and an error, Latta threatened to make it a game in the bottom of the inning, scoring twice on singles by Whitis and Dalton Brown, a walk to Husband and Kolbie Brown’s bases-loaded two-run double. But Maples struck out Ofsak, retired Reed on a comebacker and struck out Dakota Roebuck to end the game.
By BOB FORREST