Panthers still going strong heading down home stretch

After a pair of disappointing losses early in the week, the Knox Central Panthers got back to their winning ways with impressive victories over Somerset and Whitley County to close out the week on a positive note.

Knox Central, the defending 13th Region champions, enter the final week of regular-season play with an overall record of 16-4, which gives the Panthers the best winning percentage among region rivals.

The Panthers remain the top defensive team in the 13th Region with 70 runs allowed through 19 games. The closest competition for Knox Central in that category would be Middlesboro with 73 runs in 21 games.

KC 10, Whitley Co. 9
Trailing 9-5 after nine and a half innings, Knox Central found itself with its back against the wall. But the Panthers had saved their best for last and scored five runs in the bottom of the 10th for the come-from-behind thriller.

Knox Central sealed the deal in the come-from-behind victory when Evan Landrum hit a hard grounder to second and reached on an error that allowed Jaylen Adams to cross the plate with the winning run. Adams had reached base earlier on an RBI single.

Jacob Engle led the way offensively for the Panthers with a 4-for-6 performance that included three runs scored. Two of his hits were doubles. He also stole a base.

Adams was also strong at the plate, with two hits, including one home run, to go with two RBI and two runs scored. Landrum added two hits, one run scored, and one RBI.

Larken Abner also had a pair of hits to go with one RBI. Brady Worley, Tucker Holland and Thomas Jackson all added one hit and one run each. Jackson had two RBI. Holland added one.

Peyton Payne and Trey Phipps contributed one hit apiece for the winners. Payne knocked in one run. Jeff Grubb crossed the plate one time as a pinch runner.

Jackson started the game on the mound and allowed four runs on four hits and four walks in two innings of work. Corey Bright came on in relief and tossed 7.2 innings while allowing two runs on three hits and three walks while striking out five. Blevin Campbell finished the game and gave up three runs on one hit and one walk while getting the final out.

KC 8, Somerset 6
Peyton Payne was a difference maker both offensively and defensively in leading Knox Central to the win.

Payne went 3-for-4 with an RBI at the plate, while allowing four runs on six hits and five walks in 4.1 innings on the hill as the winning pitcher. He stuck out six.

Larken Abner also had a big night at the plate for the Panthers with three hits in three at bats with three RBI.

Brady Worley finished with two hits, one run and one RBI. Jaylen Adams and Evan Landrum both contributed one hit, one RBI and two runs scored, while Blevin Campbell and Jacob Engle added one hit and one run apiece.

One of Adams’ hits was a home run.

Ethan Mills scored one run for the winners as a pinch runner.

Once Payne exited the game, Blevin Campbell came on and worked the final 2.2 innings, allowing just one run on two hits and no walks. He stuck out three.