The win guaranteed Walton (20-6, 11-3) the No. 2 seed
coming out of Region 5AAAAAA. The Raiders couldn’t catch up to Milton, which ended up with just two region losses.
The Raiders will host Peachtree Ridge, the No. 3 team from Region 7AAAAAA, for a best-of-three series when the state playoffs begin next Friday.
“At least it gets us the second seed, no matter what happens,” Walton coach Shane Amos said. “Playing at home is always better than getting on the bus.”
Panter threw 69 pitches and gave up three hits and two walks. He had two six-inning strikeouts.
With Walton holding on to a 2-0 lead, Panter’s first strikeout gave the Raiders two outs in the sixth, but he began to show signs of fatigue.
Roswell’s Mitchell Benson singled on a 3-1 count, and Panther went on to walk Rory Horde on five pitches. With runners on first and second, it wasn’t looking good when Panther built a 2-0 count against Austin Krzeminski.
But the Raiders didn’t give up on Panter, nor did he give up on himself. He bounced back with three straight strikes and fanned Krzeminski to end the frame.
“I was getting tired, but I had to trust in my pitches, stay focused and try to throw strikes,” Panter said. “I was definitely relieved when I got out of the inning unharmed.”
Panter’s teammates were also relieved and thanked him by tacking on two more runs in the bottom half of the inning.
For the second time in the game, Walton loaded the bases with no outs.
But unlike the second inning, when the Raiders loaded the bases with no outs, they came through with a couple of runs. Both of those runs came off the bat of freshman Jason Rooks, who ripped a long single that bounced off the right-field wall.
“Jason has been there all year,” Amos said. “He did a good job going away and going deep.”
After failing to score in the second with the bases loaded, Walton cashed in in the third. It started when Luke Manzo walked on four straight pitches with one out, and Chase Roberts brought him home with an RBI double to left. Two batters later, Burks came home on an RBI double by Tyler Heinrichs.
Harrison Veldsma needed just nine pitches in the seventh inning to get the save for Walton.
Roswell (16-10, 9-5) ended the season as the region’s No. 3 seed, with Lassiter (11-15, 8-6) beating out Etowah for the No. 4.