Austin Jones' two-out double in the 10th inning gave LaGrange a 5-4 walk-off win over Piedmont in the USA South Tournament on Thursday at Cleaveland Field in Williamson Stadium. The Panthers (24-15) moved to 2-0 in the tournament and will face N.C. Wesleyan at 12 p.m. on Friday.
Jacob Gassert, who tied the game in the fifth with a three-run home run, led off the 10th with his fourth hit of the game. He moved up to second on James Poropatic's sacrifice, then Jack Layrisson was walked intentionally. McKinley Erves flied out for the second out to bring up Jones. The senior catcher lined reliever Buddy Green's pitch down the right field line to easily score Gassert with the winning run.
The Panthers had to rally from an early 3-0 hole to defeat the second-seeded Lions (23-11). They got a run back in the fourth inning. Gassert led off with a single and went to third on Layrisson's double. He came home as Erves flied out to right.
Trailing 4-1, Gassert tied the game for LC in the fifth. Jackson Patrick led off the inning with a double. Rhett Mixon kept the inning alive with a two-out walk. Gassert followed with his third home run of the season, a three-run shot to left center to tie the game.
Gibson Bittner (6-1) had his second straight outstanding relieve appearance to get the win. He threw 4-2/3 scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and striking out two. In two tournament appearances, the freshman has thrown eight shutout innings, picking up a win and a save. Richie Post started and pitched into the sixth before giving way to Bittner. He gave up four runs on seven hits.