Union County looked to be in serious danger of taking themselves out of contention for the Region III-AAA title on Friday night in Chapman before squeezing out a heart stopping 3-2 win in the seventh inning.
The Panthers took an early 2-0 lead and kept it until the fifth inning when the Jackets cut the margin to one. Will Palmer hit a lead-off single that Mark Jeter followed up with a single down the left field line. A wild pitch plated Palmer before Chapman got out of the inning, up 2-1.
After a scoreless sixth inning, the Jackets returned to offense for one last attempt to make something happen.
However, the Panthers were intent on spoiling Union County’s party using a ground out and a fielder’s choice for two outs with the tying and go ahead runs on base in Palmer and Devontae Glenn.
SMC verbal commit Jake Walton stepped into the batter’s box. Walton, the number three batter, had reached on a fielder’s choice, flied out, and popped up to the catcher on his previous at bats. He was due.
Union County was down to not only its last out, but also its last strike when Walton, up for the challenge, hit a shot into left field, scoring Palmer and Glenn for the lead, 3-2.
Josh Simpson followed with a hit, but was left on base.
However, the damage was done, and four plays later so was the game as the Jackets survived a close one, earning the come from behind win.
The final test comes tonight as Union County heads to Clinton to determine a region champion.