Pacers fall to Panthers in league opener


By Michael Rich - For the Gazette



Senior Ben Gbur pitched a two-hitter to lead host Hilliard Darby, which scored five first-inning runs, and the Delaware Hayes baseball team couldn’t recover in a 10-0 loss in six innings to open OCC-Cardinal action Monday night in Hilliard.

“I wanted to see our guys in a little bit of adversity,” Hayes coach Ryan Montgomery said. “It’s the third game of the year against a really good team and the good thing about it is that we get to play them again coming up.”

Gbur held the Pacers to two hits, a walk and a hit batter and struck out five over six scoreless innings to get the win for the Panthers (4-2, 1-0).

Brice Stultz drove home two runs on a double and Chandler Barlow and Mason Bowers each added RBI singles. Ryan Eatherton reached on an error on a squeeze bunt to stake Darby to a 5-0 lead.

Then, Mason Davis settled down. He got the final two outs of the first and retired the side in order in both the second and the third innings.

“I was really happy with him after that first inning,” Montgomery said. “You could really tell that he worked off some of that rust. He really commanded the zone and kept them off-balance.”

Davis gave up just two hits afterward, both on bunts. Ian Coverstone bunted for a hit with one out in the fourth to end a string of nine straight retired by Davis.

Gbur led off the fifth with a base hit off a bunt. Clay Strausbaugh walked to finish Davis’ day on the mound.

“We wanted to stick with Mason in the fifth, but he hasn’t thrown a whole lot for us lately just due to weather and stuff like that,” Montgomery said.

Eatherton drove in two runs on a single to right later and a third scored on the play on an error to blow the game open. Eatherton scored on an error to push it to 9-0 through five.

“We have to make plays,” Montgomery said. “We don’t have that margin for error. We have to take those outs when we can get them.”

Strausbaugh finished it up with a one-out RBI double in the sixth.

Gbur, meanwhile, threw 1-2-3 innings in the first, fourth and fifth and faced the minimum in the third and sixth thanks to a couple of double plays.

Hayes’ biggest scoring opportunity came in the second when Alex Kelly was hit by a pitch and Isaiah Moore followed with a single to open the frame.

But, Gbur struck out the next three batters to end the threat.

“He kept it at the knees and they were calling it at the knees,” Montgomery said. “We didn’t make the adjustment soon enough knowing when he gets up in the count – he likes to go to his off-speed.

“Too many times, he was able to get the advantage on us. To his credit – that’s what you’re supposed to do as a pitcher – and we were caught chasing or caught looking at his off-speed, which is really good.”

Brandon Flannery had a hit and a walk to lead the Pacers (2-1, 0-1).

“There were some positive things,” Montgomery said. “Guys were hitting line drives – putting the bat on the ball. We seem to find more players when we hit the ball.”

Hayes and Darby meet again Wednesday in Delaware. First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m.

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By Michael Rich

For the Gazette

Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at mrichnotwealthy@gmail.com.

Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at mrichnotwealthy@gmail.com.