LANCASTER — Nick Salyer was still searching for his first hit when he stepped into the batter’s box on Tuesday during the seventh inning.
“I had struggled at the plate in my previous at-bats, so I wanted to go up there and see a few pitches until I got a fastball I could hit,” Salyer said.
And Salyer knocked the fastball into the right field gap for a three-run double, providing the final blow in a 7-3 win over host Lancaster Post 11.
The Panthers had been held to just three hits over the opening six innings by Tylor Wolfe, as they entered their final at-bat trailing 3-1.
“We wanted to zone in on Wolfe’s fastball and try to run his pitch count up, so he’d get tired or would have to be pulled, but we had a hard time doing that,” Circleville Post 134 coach Jeff Lanman said. “He did a nice job of locating his fastball and when we hit it hard, it seemed to be right at someone and they’d turn a double play.
“We also got a little over-aggressive, at times, and we had an inning where we saw just five pitches. I felt like we started putting together better at-bats in the sixth and it carried over to the seventh, where we finally got to him.”
Lane Larson opened the inning by singling to right and advanced to second when Noah Rossiter drew a one out walk. Following a strikeout for the second out, Cody Kennedy also worked a walk to load the bases.
“Our younger kids, in terms of experience batting at this level, are at the bottom of the order and they did a nice job of putting together some good at-bats and really battling to set-up the top of our lineup,” Lanman said.
A wild pitch by Wolfe allowed Larson to scamper home and make it a one-run game. Andrew Grcic then drew the third walk of the inning to reload the bases.
Post 11 went to the bullpen, bringing on Dakota Sode, who promptly threw eight straight balls to walk Noah Cline and Cam Farley and force in Rossiter and Kennedy with the tying and go-ahead run.
Next up was Salyer, who gave the Panthers breathing room with his aforementioned three-run double to score Grcic, Cline and Farley to make it 7-3.
“I was thinking if we could get Nick up there with runners on base that he was due for a big hit,” Lanman said. “Nick has a way of coming through in big situations.”
Post 11 took a 1-0 lead in the first on a single from James Troup to score Dylan Piko.
The Panthers tied the game in the third.
Kennedy led-off the inning by working a walk, advanced to third on a passed ball and wild pitch and scored on a single to left off the bat of Grcic.
Post 11 regained the lead in the fourth on a fielder’s choice ground out by Zack Crist, combined with a throwing error in trying to turn a double play, to score both Zane Mirgon and Troup.
Tanner Bennett threw the first five-plus innings as he scattered eight hits and yielded three runs — two earned. He walked four and struck out five. Max Brooks came on and retired the final six Post 11 batters of the game and notched a strikeout.
“Lane Larson really had a great game tonight, doing a nice job of handling a couple of our younger pitchers and throwing out three base-runners, including two on balls in the dirt that were tough plays,” Lanman said. “And then you go to the seventh and he started that big inning for us with a base hit.
“I was really proud with the way Tanner Bennett competed and he gave me more than I could have asked for. Then Max Brooks comes in and throws two nice innings to get the win.”
The Panthers (2-2) host Portsmouth Post 23 at Circleville High School for a doubleheader on Saturday, beginning at 1 p.m. Post 134 will honor former catcher Rusty Shull Jr., who tragically passed away in an automobile accident last November, before the twin bill.