Cael Chatham closed out second-ranked LaGrange's 7-5 USA South win over Maryville in his first collegiate pitching appearance Friday night at Cleaveland Field in Williamson Stadium. The Panthers improved to 28-5 overall and 11-2 in the conference.
Chatham, who pitched in high school, entered the game in the ninth inning with the Panthers holding a two-run lead. He retired the first two batters on a fly out and a strike out. Christian Carlson coaxed a walk off Chatham to keep the inning going. But Chatham got Nelson Smith to ground out to third for the final out.
Jacob Smith (6-0) allowed an unearned run in two innings of work to pick up the win. Baley Coleman pitched the first six innings, surrendering four runs but only one earned. He scattered six hits, walked three, and struck out nine.
Maryville (22-11, 7-6 USA South) got a run in the first and a two-run home run by Zac Graham in the third to go up 3-0.
The Panthers came back with a five-run fourth inning off the Scots' Bryce Leonhardt (6-2). McKinley Erves tripled to right center on Leonhardt's first pitch of the inning. Joe Ruth doubled down the right field line on the next pitch to bring in Erves with LC's first run. One out later, Chatham singled to center to drive in Ruth. David Smigelski's double down the left field line put runners at second and third.
Rhett Hebert dropped a single into right to score Chatham to tie the game. Matt Eden's sacrifice fly scored Smigelski to give LC the lead. Gabe Pallo's RBI single to center drove in Hebert to put LC up 5-3.
The Scots got an unearned run the fifth and another in the seventh to tie the game 5-5. The Panthers answered in their half of the seventh.
Erves led off the inning with his second triple of the game. One out later, Leonhardt was called for his second balk of the game, allowing Erves to come home with the go-ahead run. Jack Layrisson doubled and moved up on Chatham's base hit. Smigelski's sacrifice fly scored Layrisson with an insurance run and a 7-5 lead.
The two teams continue their weekend series Saturday, starting at 2 p.m.