Riverchase wins area baseball championship

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 21, 2008

By GREGG VINSON / Special to the Reporter

CHELSEA – The Riverchase Middle School Panthers rallied from the loser’s bracket to defeat Thompson twice, 6-3 and 5-2, to bring home the area middle school tournament Thursday.

RMS started the tournament with a 15-2 win over Briarwood behind the strong pitching of Hunter Soleymani, who gave up only two runs and struck out seven in the called five inning game. Michael Herring had six RBIs and Austin Lohr had three RBIs to lead the offense.

In game two, RMS met Thompson, who had defeated Chelsea on the opening night. The Warriors wasted no time putting 11 runs on the board to defeat the Panthers, 11-1. The only offense the Panthers could manage was a lone single by Eli Beall.

Game three was a rematch between RMS and Briarwood. The Panthers jumped on Briarwood scoring five runs in the first inning and holding on for a 7-6 win. Jackson Pruitt was strong on the mound picking up the win with relief from Michael Herring, who picked up the save. Beall and Michael Herring led the offense with two RBIs.

In a rematch of the second round, Riverchase met Thompson in the championship. RMS head coach Nathan Collins tabbed Soleymani as the starting pitcher and he delivered.

The game was scoreless until the top of the third when Gray Cato singled and scored on triple by Beall, who later came in on an error to give the Panthers a 2-0 lead. The game remained 2-0 until the top of the sixth inning when Thomas Lowery drove in Herring with a clutch two-out double putting RMS up 3-0.

In the top of the seventh, Cato collected his third hit of the game and advance home on a two-run homer by Soleymani. Thompson managed to put two runs up in the bottom of the seventh, but could get no closer, as the Panthers forced the title game.

The Panthers relied on Lowery’s left arm for the championship. He delivered, striking out 10 in seven innings of work and allowed just four hits.

Cato started the game with a double and later scored on a bases loaded walk from Fletcher Johnson to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead.

Thompson answered with two runs in the bottom half of the inning, but RMS added two more on a home run by Soleymani in the second and two in the third inning. The Warriors added a run in sixth, but Riverchase balanced it out with a run in the seventh when Ty Pierce scored on an RBI double by Beall.

Lowery retired the Warriors in order in the seventh, striking out the final two batters for the win