Could history repeat itself? The short answer was “no” but the long answer was: “Boy, it sure looked like it was about to.”
Perry, back on April 7, found itself trailing Region 4-AAAA opponent West Laurens 5-2 after five. Worse, the Raiders put up four runs in the top of the sixth to make it 9-2. The Panthers cut it to 9-4 with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the inning and then scored six runs in the bottom of the seventh to win 10-9. Tyler Newhouse’s single provided the final blow for Perry and the jubilant home crowd in walk-off fashion.
Fast forward to Friday.
This time, with both at 10-1, the region championship was at stake. Perry, with West Laurens scoring three in the bottom half of the first, trailed 3-0 through three. The Raiders made it 4-0 with a leadoff double and two-out triple.
The Panthers took advantage of a pair of walks to start the fifth to put one on the board; a double play kept them from cutting any deeper.
West Laurens went quiet in the bottom half of the inning. Perry coaxed a walk in the sixth but could do nothing with it. The Raiders went in order in their half.
That set the stage for the seventh.
A fly out started the inning. Tanner Knowles then singled. Another fly out followed. Lane Rucker then tripled to bring in Knowles. Tyler Newhouse was hit by a pitch. The tying runners were on. Newhouse obviously had to get in scoring position. He tried. He was thrown out. History would not repeat itself.
Still, the Panthers earned the second seed for state play. They will face off against Cairo, the No. 3 seed out of Region 1. The Syrupmakers are 18-8. Perry stands at 20-6. That best two-of-three is slated for April 28-29, according to the GHSA bracket.
Elsewhere, Wayne County put an end to a rough year for Warner Robins with a sweep. The Yellow Jackets beat the Demons 15-0 in the first game and 12-2 in the second Friday at Warner Robins. They improved to 24-5, 12-0 in 1-AAAAA, and champ as a result.
They also left Warner Robins – 6-17, 1-11 – the odd team out as far as the state tournament; fifth of the five teams. (Veterans will enter the tournament the No. 4 seed and will have to travel and play Ola, the No. 1 seed out of Region 4.)