Piedmont held off second-ranked LaGrange 8-5 to take the first game of their three-game USA South series Thursday night at Cleaveland Field in Williamson Stadium.
Piedmont (14-14-1, 6-4 USA South) built an 8-1 lead through six innings. Alex Gonzalez drove in seven of the runs with a grand slam off Baley Coleman (6-1), then drove in three more runs with two singles.
Peyton Irvin (4-4) held the Panthers in check into the eighth inning. With runners on second and third and two out, Cael Chatham singled to left, driving in Rhett Mixon and McKinley Erves to make it 8-3. Jared Alridge and Matt Eden walked to load the bases. Shortstop Brayden Brooks speared Rhett Hebert's line drive that was headed to center field to end the inning.
In the ninth with one out, releiver Tyler Roon walked Mixon and Erves followed with a double to right center. Joe Ruth's sacrifice fly brought home Mixon as Erves took third. Jack Layrisson and Chatham walked to load the bases. Carter Ballstadt came on for Roon and walked Jared Aldridge to force in Erves to make it 8-5. Ballstadt got Eden to hit into a force out to end the game and record his fifth save of the season.
Coleman pitched into the sixth, walking the first batter. He allowed five earned runs on four hits, walked six, and struck out three. Jack Richards surrendered three runs and five hits in three innings of work. Ashton Shackleford set Piedmont down in order in the ninth, striking out two.
Erves had three of the Panthers' eight hits and scored two runs. Chatham had the two-run single, while Aldridge had a double and two RBIs.
The two team conclude their series with a doubleheader Friday beginning at 2 p.m.