PERRY -- Backed into a corner after a 10-inning loss in Friday’s first game of the GHSA Class AAAA baseball playoffs, Perry showed no mercy on Cook.
The Panthers recovered from the 8-5 defeat with a 12-0 decision in Friday’s second game, then claimed the best-of-three series with an 18-3 romp Saturday afternoon. Both wins were shortened to five innings by the mercy rule.
“We lost a tough, hard-fought first game in 10 innings,” Perry head coach Lorne Tucker said. “We fought hard to get back in it, then had chance to win it, but didn’t get the job done. Kudos to Cook, they did.
“It was a tough one to come back from and we could’ve folded our tents, but the kids came out swinging.”
The Panthers (19-8) will now visit Buford (26-2) in Wednesday’s second round. The Wolves, champions of Region 8-AAAA, eliminated Heritage Catholic with a 10-8, 8-1 sweep Friday.
Perry combined seven hits with 14 walks to cruise in Friday’s second game, scoring four runs in each of the first two innings to get the rout started. The Panthers followed that Saturday with an 18-hit attack, scoring in each of the first three innings before putting the issue in mercy territory with a nine-run fourth when 14 hitters went to the plate.
“We came back (Friday) night and swung the bats well and played good defense,” said Tucker, whose team had seven hits in the blowout inning. “(Saturday), I could tell we were ready to play. We really swung it well.”
Perry got a hit from all but one spot in the batting order, with shortstop Cal Gentry, center fielder Parker Shalman, pitcher Drew Martens and catcher J.W. Gentry collecting three hits each. Cal Gentry and Martens knocked in two runs each, and the other two one apiece.
Jackson Farrell and Jake Farrell had the other multiple-hits effort for the Panthers, with the former batting in three runs.
Martens was the winning pitcher in both games for Perry. Tucker decided not to send the junior left-hander out in the third inning of Friday’s nightcap with the Panthers ahead 11-0.
He pitched four innings of one-hit ball Saturday, allowing three unearned runs.
“We were fortunate to jump out to that lead,” Tucker said of Friday’s win. “Ryan Thompson came in and closed the door. Being able to save (Martens) to pitch again today was huge.
“Having him going (Saturday), I liked out chances. When we swing the bats like we did and have him on the mound, that’s a good combination.”