The Panthers hosted the Patriots in a rare 1 p.m. start and their stands were full of students. But it was Union that seized the momentum.
Brad McCoy delivered a two-run double in the first inning as they took a 2-0 lead.
Cumberland Gap loaded the bases in their half of the first as Gerald Branham doubled with two outs, Corey Womack was hit by a pitch and Jadon Guy walked. But they weren’t able to push across any runs.
Womack, the Panther start-ing pitcher, kept the Patriots at bay until the fifth inning. This time it was Tyler Pratt delivering a two-run double for Union as they stretched their lead to 4-0.
Womack struck out five over 4-1/3 innings while giv-ing up ten hits and hitting a batter. Josh Baughcum took over on the mound in the fifth, and finished out the game.
Meanwhile, the Panther offense was baffled by Cody Burchell’s array of off-speed pitches as they managed just three hits through the five innings.
“Right now we’re just too inconsistent,” Cumberland Gap coach David Hamilton said. “(Thursday) we had our best game of the season, then we come out here (Friday) and just can’t make anything happen.”
The Patriots tacked on three insurance runs in the top of the sixth to make it 7-0.
Cumberland Gap finally broke through in the sixth as Branham led off by ripping a double to centerfield. Womack followed with a single and Branham scored when the throw to third got away.
Guy walked and two outs later Chris Millner singled to score Womack and cut it to 7-2.
Union went 1-2-3 in the seventh and the Panthers kept battling until their final at bat.
Seth Sharp walked leading off and Jeffrey Webb was hit by a pitch. Branham’s hard single scored Sharp and one out later Guy singled to load the bases. Baughcum’s fly ball was deep enough to get Webb home and bring CGHS to within 7-4, but that proved to be the final score.
“We just shot ourselves in the foot in key situations when we had opportunities to score,” Hamilton said. “We didn’t make routine plays that we have been making. When we do those things it makes it tough on us (to win)."
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Thursday night the Panthers put together one of their best offensive games of the season as they pounded out 14 hits on route to an 11-1 win over Gatlinburg-Pittman in six innings.
Branham led the way with three hits including a double. He also reached on an error, stole three bases and scored four runs.
Josh Barnett knocked in three runs with a two-run triple and a sacrifice fly. Guy also drove in three with a two-run single and a ground out. Webb and Womack both had two hits, including a double each; and Josh Baughcum joined the hit parade with a pair of RBI singles.
Branham got the win as he allowed just one run on six hits over six innings. He struck out seven and walked one.
Womack’s two-run double with no outs in the bottom of the sixth brought the ten-run rule into effect.
“Everything we asked them to do to come back from a loss at Rutledge, they did it,” Hamilton said. “They responded and had great enthusiasm, great energy, and great at bats at the plate.
“We just played sound, fundamental baseball. If I knew what the secret was, I’d sell it.”
Cumberland Gap (12-6, 3-3 district) hosts Rutledge Monday at 6 p.m.
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Union County 200 023 0 — 7 14 2
Cumberland Gap 000 002 2 — 4 8 2
Burchell and Pratt; Womack, JBaughcum (5) and Antuna. W—Burchell. L—Womack.
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Gatlinburg-Pittman 001 000 — 1 6 1
Cumberland Gap 215 102 — 11 13 0
Barber and Capps; Branham and Antuna. W—Branham. L—Barber.