Starr’s Mill continued to showcase their dominant pitching rotation against McIntosh on Friday night.
In the rubber game of the Battle of the Bubble series, the Panthers turned to ace Dawson Sweatt to face the rival Chiefs. The Auburn commit didn’t disappoint as he threw a one-hitter en route to a 2-0 Panthers win.
“It was another great pitching performance,” Panthers head coach Brent Moseley said. “That was the best he has been all year and the first time we got him deep in the game. He gave up one hit and was really good tonight.”
Sweatt pounded the strike zone and was rewarded with 12 first-pitch strikes. His aggressive attack set up favorable pitching counts and put him in the driver’s seat. He took advantage by barreling his fastball inside to lefties. As a result, he allowed one hit and collected six strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings of work.
“The placement of my fastball was key in the game,” Sweatt said. “I threw a couple of changeups that really worked well. I also struggled with my curveball at times, but I got it over when I needed it.”
The fastball bailed him out a couple times against the Chiefs. In the second inning, he ran into trouble and utilized it to escape unscathed. After hitting a batter and committing a fielding error, Sweatt used his fastball to get Jack Bukowski swinging.
The strikeout was huge as he started to regain his confidence. Later, he would work around a sacrifice bunt and a walk. With runners on second and third, Sweatt got Burton Hahn to fly out to end the inning.
“That is kind of how it’s been all year,” Sweatt said. “It was one inning that kind of got me, but I was able to dig through and finish it.”
The second inning was one of a few chances the Chiefs had to get on the board. After failing to score, they were sat down in order over the middle innings. Sweatt finished his outing retiring 10 of his last 11 batters.
The Panthers made sure to not waste Sweatt’s gem. The lineup went to work against Chiefs starter Nate Smith and scored the game’s first run in the second inning. Outfielder Hunter Lawson drove in catcher Charlie Mizzell on a fielder’s choice to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead.
In the fourth inning, Lawson smacked an RBI single to extend the lead to 2-0. The Panthers tacked on another run as first baseman Hayes Heinecke scored on an error.
Lawson finished the night going 1-for-3 and reached base twice. After the game, Moseley raved about his plate discipline and approach.
“He did a good job at the plate and doing what we ask him to do,” Moseley said. “We want to hit the ball on the ground and he did that twice. It was one for the hit and the other for the RBI. He is doing well.”
McIntosh threatened to score in the seventh inning, but the Panthers closed the door to take the shutout victory. The Panthers improved to 8-6 (7-1). They hold a 1.5 game lead over Griffin. McIntosh fell to 10-5 (5-4) on the season.
Both teams will continue to jockey for playoff positioning. Moseley hopes that his team continues to pitch well and hit to stay on top. He knows that they will need it down the stretch.
“We are in good shape right now to win the region, but we have a long way to go,” Moseley said.
The Panthers are back in action on Monday against Morrow. The Chiefs will face Newnan in a non-conference game on Wednesday.
To see more photos, here.