MANSFIELD — Getting hits at the right time, Ponder defeated the Whitney Wildcats 8-3 on Friday in the opener of a Class 2A bi-district playoff series.
“We made our hits count when we needed them to,” Ponder coach Mark Low said.
The Lions (15-11) recorded five hits — two less than Whitney — and those hits amounted to more runs after seven innings.
Ponder took the lead with two runs in the top of the first and one in the third. Dylan Nichelson scored in each of those innings and added one in the fourth. Keaton Malcom, Reid Prude or prudent?Sanders, Brenden Sooter, Austin Leverage and Jack Beer each scored one run.
Beer hit the Lions’ only home run in the fourth.
“Jack really stepped up when we needed him to,” Low said. “He came in to bat for our third man in the lineup, Ethan Easterling, who had to leave the game because he was ill. Jack hit the three-run homer with two outs and two strikes on the board.”
The Lions’ defense, led by pitcher Austin Hayden (6-4), held the Wildcats to three runs and seven hits.
“Hayden played really well tonight; he had 12 strikeouts with only one walk,” Low said.
Ponder commited five errors.
“The only error that cost us a run was when Hayden picked up the ball off of a bunt and threw it down the line to first but was just a little off,” Low said.
After Whitney scored its final runs in the fourth, Ponder had its five-run margin.
“We had to overcome some adversity on both offense and defense with Easterling leaving and the errors we committed, but the guys kept on plugging and we came out on top,” Low said.
The Lions will have their sights set on closing out the series at noon today in Mansfield.
“We are just going to try to go out there and do the same thing we did tonight — win.”
Class 2A playoffs
Ponder 8, Whitney 3
WP — Austin Hayden. (4-2) LP — Cash Callahan. 2B — P: Keaton Malcom, Austin Hayden, Kade Copp; W: Callahan. HR — P: Jack Beer.