Lumberton displays a well-rounded team Tuesday against East Marion

By CAMAL PETRO,

LUMBERTON – The Lumberton Panthers have all the ingredients to compete for a region title and make a deep playoff run. Entering Tuesday night’s doubleheader with East Marion, they had a .324 team batting average and a 2.70 team earned run average. 

Tuesday night helped those numbers improve, as Lumberton took down the Eagles 13-4 and 17-4 to start region play 2-0. The Panthers are now 9-2 overall this season and they’ll play in Hattiesburg’s Clemon Terrell Classic Saturday.

PHOTO GALLERY: Click for photos from Matt Bush.

While things are looking bright for Lumberton, coach Kody Lancaster says there’s one thing that could bring his team down this season. It’s not his team’s hitting, nor his team’s pitching. It’s not even the way the Panthers play defense.

“Our mindset,” Lancaster said. “If you look, we can swing it one through nine, we’ve got some good arms and we’re good defensively, so it’s the mindset. It comes down to the sixth tool that we’ve been lacking. If we can develop that, we can be a tough team.”

Lancaster thought his team came to the ballpark Tuesday a little complacent, too. Spring break could be to blame, but that’s just another example of the mindset Lancaster doesn't want to see. 

“We’re our own worst enemy right now,” he said. “We’re working out some of our mental mistakes, and we just have to stay hungry and keep growing. I’m happy with where we’re at, but we still have a long way to go.”

Lumberton started the first game of the doubleheader slow, and the Eagles took advantage. East Marion turned five walks and a hit in the first inning into three runs, but that was the only offense it would see for the remainder of the game. After Antwuan Lampton took over on the mound with two outs in the first inning, East Marion only recorded four hits the rest of the contest.

Lampton finished with six strikeouts and two walks while giving up just one earned run on those four hits.

“He’s been a workhorse for us,” Lancaster said. “Just coming in and filling the zone up. He’s been a major asset.”

It took a couple of innings, but the Panthers’ offense started to find a groove in the third inning. They scored five runs in the frame to take a 6-3 lead, and they never looked back.

Lumberton hit 9-for-23 in the first game with five walks, and it was led by Andrew Townsend’s 3-for-4, three RBI performance from the nine-hole slot.

“The great thing about this lineup is when the top is not doing it, the bottom is very likely to get it done,” Lancaster said. “It could be any player on any day, which makes it kind of a special lineup.”

In the second game, Townsend shined on the mound, too. Lumberton only needed four innings to beat East Marion, and Townsend pitched a gem in those four innings. The Eagles did get to the lefty in the bottom of the fourth, though, but in 72 pitches, 49 were for strikes (68 percent).

Townsend allowed five hits in his outing, and he struck out six. However, three of those hits came in the fourth inning, and all four runs that he gave up happened in that frame as well.

“I’ve been seeing that more and more here lately,” Lancaster said. “He’s starting to really buy-in. He’s a bulldog and he’s had two or three outings very similar to that one, minus that last inning. He’s really coming on.”

The offense continued in the second game, too. Lumberton was walked 10 times and had four more batters hit by a pitch, but it was 9-for-21 when it did record an at-bat. The Panthers scored six runs in the first inning, three in the second, three more in the third and five in the fourth to run away from East Marion.

Davion Edwards led the offense with a 2-for-3, three RBI and three runs scored, and Sam Allen matched Edwards with a 2-for-3 performance of his own, scoring three times as well.

With that kind of offense, the pitching depth most 1A teams don’t have, the Panthers are a well-rounded team. The sky is the limit if they can stay locked in.