It would be hard to have a better start to the Buckeye Elite Tournament than the Circleville Post 134 Panthers did on Thursday, opening pool play with a pair of 10-1 wins over the Olentangy Styx and the Hamilton Joe’s.

“Our kids hit the ball well when we stayed within our approach at the plate and then our pitching was phenomenal to open the tournament,” Post 134 coach Jeff Lanman said. “When you can win two games in the first day of a tournament and only use two pitchers, I’ll take that every time.”

Eric Corzatt was in control in the opener, scattering seven hits over six innings and allowing an earned run in a three-hit fourth. The recent Westfall graduate issued a pair of walks and struck out four batters.

“Eric knows who he is as a pitcher and he uses his pitches and does a nice job of keeping hitters off-balance,” Lanman said. “He had real nice command of his slider and curveball and was able to use those pitches with his fastball.”

The Panthers scored in each of their last five at-bats, highlighted by three-run frames in the second and sixth and two runs in the fourth.

Nick Salyer doubled twice and drove in a run, Lane Larson had two singles and an RBI, Corzatt helped us how cause with a single, double and RBI and Ryan Schwartz added an RBI double.

The Panthers wasted no time against the Joe’s in the second game of the day at Circleville High School, scoring three times in their opening at-bat.

Ty Lau opened the home first with a single and was joined on the base pads when Salyer drew a walk and Larson was hit by a pitch. Cline was then hit by a pitch to force in Lau for the opening run.

Seth Lockard followed with a two-run single to score Salyer and Larson.

The Panthers answered the lone run by the Joe’s in their ensuing at-bat.

Lau and Tanner Bennett each singled with one out and Salyer worked a walk to load the bases. Following a strikeout, Cline singled in Lau to make it 4-1.

Kennedy opened the home fourth with a single to right and scored an out later on a single to right off the bat of Salyer to make it 5-1.

Post 134 then put away their second-straight run-rule win with a five-run fifth, all with two outs.

A single to center by Kennedy scored pinch-runner Andrew Gricic. Following an infield single by Lau, Bennett was hit by a pitch to force in Max Brooks. A wild pitch allowed Kennedy to score and then a two-run single to left off the bat of Salyer brought around Lau and pinch-runner Josiah Roese.

“We had let them off the hook a couple of times, so it was nice to kick the door down with a big inning,” Lanman said. “Nick closed that inning for us and he’s been on fire all summer.”

Lau paced the Panthers with three singles and three runs scored, Salyer singled twice and drove in three runs and Kennedy had a single, double and drove in a run.

“Our 9-1-2 hitters with Cody Kennedy, Ty Lau and Tanner Bennett really did a nice job of hitting and getting things started for our power in the middle of the lineup with Nick Salyer, Lane Larson and Noah Cline,” Lanman said. “Getting that type of production from those hitters has been part of the reason why we’re a different team from when we started the season at 3-12.”

Bennett checked the Joe’s to just a pair of hits and an earned run. The Amanda-Clearcreek senior walked a batter, hit two and struck out four.

“Tanner has really worked hard all summer on his stride and being consistent with it,” Lanman said. “When he gets his stride down routinely and stays on top of the baseball, he’s pretty good with his fastball, changeup and curveball.”

The Panthers (14-13) return to action against 18U Home Plate Elite, who also won their first two games yesterday in pool play. First pitch is slated for 3:30 p.m. at CHS.

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