The Perry Panthers received an excellent start on the mound from Drew Martens and rode the back of the senior to a key 3-0 GHSA Region 2-AAAA baseball victory Tuesday over the Howard Huskies.
Perry (5-8, 2-1) scored all it needed in the first inning. After a pair of strikeouts to start, Martens doubled off of the first-base bag and came around to score on a Taylor Holtzclaw bloop single to right.
The Panthers added two runs in the fourth on three hits.
Perry had numerous chances to blow the contest open, but the Panthers left 10 men on base.
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Martens was extra efficient in the late innings to extend his start for the complete game victory. He struck out five Huskies batters in the final three innings as Howard fell to 4-8, 0-3 in region play.
The win keeps Perry squarely in the race for a region title that figures to go down to the wire.
THREE WHO MATTERED
Martens: The ABAC commitment picked up the win by striking out nine. He scattered four hits and a pair of walks.
Holtzclaw: The clean-up hitter for Perry had two hits, an RBI and reached base safely in 3-of-4 plate appearances.
Kazuya Makita: The left-hander struck out five in his four innings, pitching out of trouble numerous times before tiring after 80 pitches.
THEY SAID IT
Acting Perry head coach T.J. Hutchens on Perry's potential: "We've got guys that work hard day in and day out, and our overall record isn't indicative of the team that we are. We're going in the right direction. We're a hit away, we're a play away or a pitch away from being that team that we need to be. We need to be more consistent."
Drew Martens on extending his outing: "In the first inning we got a run and tacked on a few more later in the game. That let me relax and just go out there to try and spot my pitches and let my defense work."
Hutchens on Martens' performance: "He's a stud. Anytime that he's on the mound, we've got a chance to win. He struggled early, but he's a bulldog, and he's going to bow his neck and find the strike zone."
Howard plays at Peach County on Wednesday in non-region action, while Perry travels to Mary Persons for a big region game Friday.