Panthers, Jags set for third game

By WESLEY HALLMAN / Sports Editor

PELHAM — Pelham High School junior Thomas Lowery knew the Panthers’ margin for error was slim when he took the mound in the second game of a best-of-three series against Spain Park in the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 6A quarterfinals.

After dropping the first game against the Jaguars 3-2, Lowery needed a strong performance to help the Panthers even the series with Spain Park.

Lowery carried a no-hitter through five innings to help Pelham clinch a 8-0 win in the nightcap, which forced a deciding third game in the series May 5 at 11 a.m.

“It was either lay down and the season is over,” Lowery said, “or bear down.”

Lowery’s performance impressed Pelham coach Jeff Mauldin, who said his effort helped keep the Panthers’ pitching staff in good shape heading into the third game of the series.

“He really was a bulldog tonight,” Mauldin said. “He commanded the strike zone.”

Lowery gave up just one hit while registering seven strikeouts and four walks before exiting after six innings.

A grand slam by Parker Curry in the top of the sixth inning served as the Panthers’ highlight offensively in the victory.

Lowery and Ty Pierce each added an RBI single in the win. Sam Finnerty scored a run on a passed ball, while Hunter Stovall scored a run by stealing home in the win.

Colton Freeman took the loss for the Jaguars after giving up three runs on two hits while recording five strikeouts and three walks in three innings.

Josh Close broke up Lowery’s no-hitter with his lead-off single in the bottom of the sixth inning. Pinch-hitter Jon Sumner added a single in the seventh inning.

Spain Park earned a 3-2 victory in the opener behind a solid effort on the mound by senior Hunter Hall. Hall limited the Panthers to just two runs in a complete-game victory.

“Getting that first game was really big,” Hall said.

The Jaguars took a 3-0 lead in the top of the fifth inning behind a two-run triple by pinch-hitter Will McDonald and an RBI single by Close.

The Panthers plated two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, but an out at home plate on a passed ball ended Pelham’s chance of tying the game.

Hall struck out two of the three batters he faced in the bottom of the seventh inning to close the door and clinch the series-opening victory.

Spain Park coach Will Smith said the Jaguars need to count their blessings after scoring runs in only one inning out of 14 in the doubleheader.

“We’re fortunate to be playing in game three,” Smith said.