WEST POINT, Ga. - LaGrange opened the USA South Tournament with a 2-1 victory over third-seeded Ferrum at West Point Field on Wednesday. The Panthers (23-15) will face second-seeded Piedmont (23-10) on Thursday at Cleaveland Field in Williamson Stadium beginning at 1:30 p.m.
The Panthers were facing Ferum for the fourth straight game. Ferrum had won two of three from the Panthers in a USA South series last weekend.
Wednesday's game was a pitching duel featuring LC's Austin Fain (6-2) and Gibson Bittner against Ferrum's Jacob Holland (3-1), the USA South Pitcher of the Year. Fain and Bittner combined to hold Ferrum to six hits in the game and the single run. Holland went 8-1/3 innings in taking his first loss of the season, allowing the two runs, walking three, and striking out nine.
The Panthers staked Fain to 1-0 lead with a run in the second inning. Austin Jones and Jackson Patrick had back-to-back one-out singles to put runners on the corners. Jones came home with the game's first run on Rhett Hollon's safety squeeze bunt.
Fain retired Ferrum in order in the first inning. Ferrum loaded the bases with one out in the fourth, but Fain pitched out of the jam without a run scoring. The Panthers picked up a key run in the sixth. Jack Layrisson worked a one-out walk and moved up to second on a ground out. Jones delivered a two-out RBI double to right center, driving in Layrisson to make it 2-0.
In the bottom of the inning, Fain gave up a two-out run-scoring single to cut LC's lead to 2-1. Bittner relieved Fain and got the final out of the inning. The freshman shut down Ferrum over the next three innings to record his second save of the season.