HATTIESBURG – Lumberton has its eyes on getting back to a position of prominence in Class 1A baseball, and so far, the Panthers appear well on their way.
Lumberton took no prisoners in making extremely short work of Sacred Heart Friday night at Larry Mixon Field, rolling over the Crusaders 17-0 in a game that was called after three innings on the mercy rule.
The Panthers remained undefeated in Region 8-1A play at 6-0 (13-3 overall), keeping pace with Resurrection, which is also unbeaten in region play. Sacred Heart dropped to 2-9 and 0-4.
“You just have to take it with the mentality that you have a plan in mind,” Lumberton coach Kody Lancaster said. “You take it one pitch at a time, and when you feel like you have a team that you know you’re superior to, you just have to take care of business and not look past anybody.”
That didn’t seem to be a problem for the Panthers, who had loads of fun at the Crusaders’ expense.
After a scoreless first inning, Lumberton sent 16 batters to the plate in the top of the second, scoring 10 runs on eight hits. The Panthers were helped by three walks, a hit batter and a pair of Sacred Heart errors that prolonged the inning.
Lumberton scored seven runs in the third on three hits, three more walks, another hit batter and another error.
Junior Jeff Townsend had the big blow for the Panthers, a three-run double down the left field line in the second, and senior Jared Tribett also drove in three runs with an RBI double in the second and a two-run single in the third.
“We have to keep pressing and practicing hard,” Tribett said. “This team is amazing, with all of these young guys. I love them to death. They come out every day and give 110 percent.
“I never envisioned myself in this role, as a senior leader. It means the world to me to be playing baseball and for these young guys to look up to me.”
Senior left-hander C.K. Bowens (3-1) surrendered a first-inning walk, but otherwise, he was perfect on the mound for Lumberton.
“My two-seam fastball had pretty good movement on it,” Bowens said. “My coaches tell me to give it everything I have, just put the ball in play and let the defense make the routine plays.”
Junior Luke Hicks (1-3) started for Sacred Heart, and was followed to the mound by junior Ewan Robinson, sophomore Caleb Cawthon and junior Judson Treganowen.
“We have a really young team with no seniors,” Sacred Heart coach Tim Coats said. “Lumberton is a really good offensive team, maybe the best-hitting team we’ve seen all year. Then we had some walks and didn’t make some plays on defense.
“But it’s like I tell the kids; we have two choices: We can quit, or we can come to work every day. That’s what they do; they come to work. That’s what I love about these kids at Sacred Heart. We’re getting better and the future looks bright.”
The future may be now for Lumberton, as the Panthers figure to be in the mix in the 1A playoffs.
“I played for Coach (Joe) Hartfield, and if you look at Hattiesburg, that’s a lot like we play,” said Lancaster, who played for the Tiger coach when he was at Lumberton. “We want to make it fun for the kids and keep them loose.”
Read more of Stan Caldwell’s work at stanmansportsfan.com.