HOLLY SPRINGS, N.C. - LaGrange's 2018 season came to an end with a heart breaking 4-3 loss to Christopher Newport at the Holly Springs Regional. The Panthers finished the season 30-18 and have put together three straight 30-win seasons for the second time in the program's history. In addition, LC won its second straiDght USA South Tournament championship.
The Panthers' had beaten the College of New Jersey 9-5 in the evening's first game to advance to play CNU with a spot in the Regional final on the line. The game did not start until 10:45 p.m. and lasted until 1:15 a.m. Sunday morning.
Senior Zach English had pitched the final 4-1/3 innings to get the win over the College of New Jersey. He got the start against the Captains and sailed through the first six innings, allowing only three hits. But in the seventh, English gave up back-to-back hits to start the inning before Nicholas Baham tied the game with a three-run home run. CNU added the go-ahead run off reliever Gibson Bittner (6-2) in the inning to go up 4-3.
The Panthers threatened in the ninth inning off reliever Joe Burris. Dawson Weaver was hit by a pitch with one out and Rhett Mixon followed with an infield single. Jacob Gassert reached on a fielder's choice to put runners on the corners. Burris ended the game by getting James Poropatic to ground out for the third out.
LC had built a 3-0 lead through five innings. Poropatic doubled in Gassert in the first for the game's first run. In the third, Gassert hit a solo home run to make it 2-0. Gassert scored his third run of the game in the fifth when McKinley Erves ground out.
The Panthers jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning against the College of New Jersey, equalling their run total for the first two games of the regional. Gassert and Poropatic had back-to-back RBI triples in the inning.
The Lions came back to take a 4-3 lead in the top of the fourth. LC came back with two runs in the bottom of the inning to retake the lead.
With the score tied 5-5, the Panthers took the lead for good with a three-run fifth inning. Dawson Weaver drove in the go-ahead run with a single. Gassert and Poropatic were hit by pitches with the bases loaded to force in two more runs. Rhett Hollon's second double of the game brought home the Panthers' final run in the sixth inning for the 9-5 final margin.