The Permian baseball team found itself in a defensive battle with Midland Lee in the final game of a three-game series Saturday at McCanlies Field.
Although the Rebels took momentary control in the matchup, the Panthers ultimately came away with a 5-2 victory.
Midland Lee had defeated Permian Friday, ending an 11-game Panther winning streak in District 2-6A play.
Teo Banks had a strong showing on the mound for the Panthers (23-7 overall, 13-3 district), opening the game with three strikeouts to set the tone. An RBI single from Ashton Coats in the bottom of the first gave Permian an early 1-0 lead.
That score stuck for much of the game, with Banks and Midland Leepitcher Hunter Weidner recording strikeout after strikeout. It wasn’t until the top of the fifth when the Rebels (19-6, 10-3) were able to get something going offensively.
Midland Lee had the bases loaded after Hayden Westenburg reached on an error that advanced Michael Weidner to third base and Casen Yonts to second.
Luis Cordero then grounded into fielder’s choice on his next at bat, allowing Weidner and Yonts to score for a 2-1 Rebels’ lead.
The Midland Lee advantage was short-lived, as Permian found its bats in the bottom of the inning to jump right back on top.
Like the Rebels in the top of the inning, Permian loaded bases before as Xavier Melendez stepped in to hit.
Jake Glasman was on third, Banks was on second and Sebastian Bravo was on first when Melendez unleashed a bases-clearing triple to right field to give Permian a 4-2 advantage.
Melendez then scored the game’s final run, racing home on a passed ball.
After providing the offensive spark, Melendez credited his teammates for getting into scoring position.
“It’s a good feeling, but it’s a team effort,” Melendez said. “Everybody contributed and everybody did their job to get on base ahead of me, I couldn’t have done it without them.”
The Panthers currently sit in first in the district standings, with Midland Lee second and Wolfforth Frenship in third.
Playing against one of the district’s top teams gave the Panthers experience they will need once postseason play starts, according to head coach Tate Criswell.
“All week long, it was a playoff type atmosphere,” Criswell said. “I saw some bend but not break, the old saying of ‘Get knocked down eight and get up nine.’
“Baseball is going to provide adversity and how you respond to it is how successful you’re going to be at the end of the day.”
Midland Lee head coach Brian Roper said his team left too many runners on base throughout the series. The way his team pitched and hit the ball stood out to Roper.
“We smoked some balls, we hit some balls hard,” Roper said. “It just wasn’t favorable conditions for who we are as a team, the extra base hit and the long ball is what we relied on.”
Melendez was 1 for 2 with three RBIs to lead Permian.
Banks and Weidner each recorded five strikeouts for their respective teams.
Permian will close out its regular season with a two-game series against Wolfforth Frenship on April 27 at McCanlies Field and April 30 in Wolfforth.
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