LaGrange staged a late rally to beat Methodist 7-5 in 10 innings in the USA South Tournament on Friday at Cleaveland Field in Williamson Stadium. The Panthers (28-9) advance to the winner's bracket Saturday at 12 p.m. against either Covenant or N.C. Wesleyan.
The Panthers got outstanding relief pitching in the game. Spencer Douches and Tanner Chafin combined for 7-1/3 scoreless innings, allowing just four hits, walking none, and striking out four. Chaffin (2-1) threw the final five innings, the longest outing of his career, to get the win.
LC, the visitor in the game, jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. E.J. Churchich's RBI single scored McKinley Erves with the first run. Churchich came around to score when Trey Pearce reached on a two-out error.
Methodist (32-8) came back with five unearned runs off starter Richie Post. The Monarchs got two runs in the second, then three more in the third, aided by three Panther errors.
LC got within a run in the eighth. Pearce and Judd Moore had run-scoring singles in the inning to cut Methodist's lead to 5-4. The Panthers pushed across the tying run in the ninth to force extra innings. Pinch-hitter Braden Shealy led off the inning with a single. Shealy moved up to second on Rhett Hollon's sacrifice bunt and came around to score on Cael Chatham's base hit to right center.
In the 10th, Joe Ruth and Churchich led off the inning with back-to-back hits and both moved up on Pearce's sacrifice bunt. Moore followed with a double to right to clear the bases and put the Panthers up 7-5. Chafin retired the Monarchs in order in the bottom of the inning to close out the win.