Defending champion Panthers open with victory over Middlesboro

The last time we saw the Knox Central High School baseball team, it was dominating it’s way through a post-season run that included both a district and region championship, and strong run in the KHSAA State Baseball Championship Tournament.

Fast forward nine months later and the Panthers were back on the field, and back to their winning ways, with a 3-0 season-opening victory Monday over Middlesboro, another of the region’s best.

But it was not easy for the defending 13th Region champions as Middlesboro struck first, scoring the game’s first run in the first inning, and never went away, battling all the way to the end in the six-inning affair.

Middlesboro scored in the first inning after a player was hit by a pitch and then crossed the plate on a single

But it was all Knox Central from there as the Panthers platted two runs in the bottom of the inning to take the lead. Blevin Campbell got it started with a walk. He came home to score on a double by Jaylen Adams to knot the score at 1-1.

Adams then crossed the plate on a base hit by Peyton Payne for the 2-1 advantage.

Knox Central dodged a bullet in the top of the third inning when Middlesboro was able to get two runners on before the Panthers toughened up and put a stop to the rally.

Knox Central then put the final run on the board in the bottom of the third inning when Adams walked and came around to score moments later on a double by Jacob Engle.

The Panthers did survive a scare in the fifth when Middlesboro had three hitters walk. But Knox Central’s defense tightened up and got out of the inning unharmed.

Knox Central had four hits in the game, one each from Adams, Engle, Thomas Jackson and Brady Worley.

The Panthers got two runs from Adams and one from Campbell, and an RBI each from Adams, Engle and Jackson.

Payne worked the first three innings on the hill, allowing one run and two hits. Jackson finished with no runs and no hits over the final three. Each had three strikeouts.