Fourth-ranked LaGrange walked off with a 7-6 win over Chapman in 10 innings Friday night at Cleaveland Field in Williamson Stadium. The Panthers took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three Super Regional series with a berth in the D3 College World Series on the line. Game 2 is Saturday at 2 p.m. The if necessary third game would follow approximately 45 minutes after the conclusion of Game 2.
The Panthers (41-6) watched a 6-3 ninth inning lead evaporate on A J Anzai's two-out bases-clearing double off reliever Cael Chatham that tied the game for Chapman (34-13). Chatham bounced back by retiring the visiting Panthers in order in the top of the 10th.
Adam Dorn led off the LC 10th with an infield single to short. Rhett Hebert walked, and Gabriel Pallo laid down a perfect bunt for his fourth hit of the game to load the bases and bring Rhett Mixon to the plate. Reliever Dylan Holt walked Mixon on four straight pitches to force in Dorn with the winning run.
Chapman had taken a 2-0 lead in the first inning off starter Baley Coleman. The Panthers answered with Pallo's two-out two-run double in the second and David Smigelski's bases loaded single again with two outs brought home two runs in the third for a 4-2 lead.
The visiting Panthers made it a one-run game in the fifth with a run. It would remain 4-3 until the eighth. Jack Layrisson led off with a triple and scored one out later on Smigelski's double to left center. With two outs and the bases loaded Pallo legged out an infield RBI hit for a 6-3 lead.
Coleman pitched into the ninth in his longest outing of the season. He left with runners on first and second. Chatham came on and retired the first two batters before issuing a walk to load the bases. Anzai followed with game-tying double to force extra innings.
The bottom four batters in the Panther lineup, led by Pallo and Smigeski, accounted for eight of the team's 13 hits and six RBIs.
The 41st win broke the 2017 team's record of 40. The Panthers with their 10th straight win, matched their season's longest winning streak.