In a battle featuring the top two teams in Class 2A, No. 2 Latta got the best of No. 1 Dale Monday night on the road.
Latta pounded out 14 hits in the surprising five-inning run-rule victory.
Latta Coach Eddie Collins saw his team improve to 14-3 on the year, while Dale slipped to 15-2.
“It was a good win. Hopefully we will build off of it and continue with a good week. We swung the bats well. (Pitcher) Brandon Mills settled in and was better after the first inning. For the most part, we played pretty good defense,” Collins said.
Latta took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Trent Storts reached first on an error by the shortstop. Jake Collins then singled and Bryce Harris received a free pass to load the bases with one out. Zac Dansby then hit a sacrifice fly to left to score Storts.
Dale answered in the bottom of the inning. Evan Anderson led off with a double. Tanner Nelson and Chase Byndas both walked to load the bases with no outs. After the Pirate four-hole hitter went down on strikes, Hunter Pinkston hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Anderson. Jace Wilkins then singled, and the bases were loaded again. Xavier Lanham received the free pass, forcing in the second Pirate run to give the hosts a 2-1 lead.
Latta then scored 10 unanswered runs, including a six-run outburst in the top of the second, to pull away.
Brady Johnson reached first on an error, and Wyatt Ryan singled to start the big second-inning uprising. Treston Tully was safe at first via an error, and the bases were loaded. Hayes singled to left and drove in Johnson to tie the game at 2-2. Storts then hit into a 5-2-3 double play.
However, Latta would start a two-out rally. Collins hit a two-RBI single and advanced to second on an error in the outfield. Harris singled and Dansby followed an RBI double to put Latta up 7-2 heading into the bottom of the second.
Latta added three more runs during the fourth as Collins and Harris singled and Brandon Clifton walked to juice the bases again. Johnson singled to left-center and drove in Collins. Tully then drove in two more runs on a base hit to left, extending the lead to 10-2.
Storts tacked on the final run of the day with a solo home run in the top of the fifth.
The Pirates did threaten in the bottom of the fifth. With one out, Pinkston singled and Wilkins doubled. Lanham then hit a hard shot to Collins at short. He stopped the ball, and Wilkins took off from second, but Pinkston did not leave third. Collins tagged Wilkins for the second out of the inning. Dalton Tillison came in to pinch hit for Dale but grounded out to Collins to end the game.
All but one of the Panthers had a hit in the contest. Collins finished a perfect 4-for-4 with two RBIs, and Harris was 3-for-3 in the contest.
Wilkins finished 3-for-3 to lead Dale at the plate.
Latta 11, Dale 2
LATTA 160 31 — 11 14 1
DALE 200 00 — 2 7 5
Brandon Mills and Zac Dansby. Tanner Nelson, Taylor Smith (4) and Gage Ross. WP-Mills. LP-Nelson. HR-Trent Storts (L). 2B-Dansby (L), Evan Anderson and Jace Wilkins (D). HL-Kade Hayes 2-4, RS, RBI; Storts 1-4, 2RS, RBI; Jake Collins 4-4, 2 RS, 2 RBIs; Bryce Harris 3-3, 2 RS; Dansby 1-4, RS, 2 RBIs; Brady Johnson 1-3, RS, RBI; Wyatt Ryan 1-3; Treston Tully 1-3, RS, 2 RBIs (L). Anderson 1-2, RS; Nelson 1-2, RS; Hunter Pinkston 1-3, RBI; Wilkins 3-3; Xavier Lanham 1-2, RBI (D).