By: Jake Hood
Wilson Central suffered a tough loss on Day Three of the Panama City Beach Invitational to Hillcrest (AL) on a walk-off single in the bottom of the eighth inning, ending the game at 4-3.
Hayden Baker took the mound for the Wildcats after the 7-0 victory over St. John Paul II one day prior. A win in this game would send the Wildcats to the tournament championship, and a loss would drop them to the third seed. Hillcrest was sitting atop the pool after defeating Hernando (MS) the day before, and this game proved to be close, as the score stood at 1-1 after 4 innings of play. The Patriots pulled ahead in the fifth and sixth innings, tallying in one run in each. The outcome of the game looked grim for the Wildcats, but the matchup proved to be far from over.
After a few walks in the top of the seventh, Gabe Jennings hit a clutch liner to center field that knocked in two runs, putting the game at 3-3 going into the bottom of the seventh. The game was now in Hillcrest’s hands. However, they were unable to produce in the bottom half of the seventh, sending the game into extra innings.
With reliever Gary Denton on the mound, the Wildcats were in hopes of regaining the lead and ending in the game, but this was not the case. After an unproductive top of the eighth, the Wildcats were now trying to keep the Patriots from sealing the game with a walk-off.
After two runners reached base and Kyle Chastine was intentionally walked to allow a double play from any base, the game ended on a walk-off dribbler up the third base line, placing Hillcrest in the one seed and the Wildcats in the three.
They will face Maryville High School in their final game of the Panama City Beach Invitational on March 14 at 12:30 p.m., then making the trek back to Lebanon to take on Gallatin at home on March 19 to start off the District 9AAA season.