Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Sports

Baseball: Plant holds off Robinson

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TAMPA — With Kyle Tucker and his county-leading seven home runs leading the way, Plant's big offense has won a tournament title and turned heads all season.

But the play on the mound has propelled the Panthers on their most recent winning streak, which reached six with Friday's 6-3 win against Robinson.

Plant's streak includes three shutouts and Jake Woodford's no-hitter.

"We've got really good pitching, good defense," coach Dennis Braun said. "That's how you're going to win."

A week after his first no-hitter at the high school level, Woodford gave up just one hit and no earned runs in three innings. With district tournaments just around the corner, Braun pulled Woodford, who came into Friday's game with a 0.45 ERA, after 40 pitches as a precaution.

While Woodford was paving the way for the win, Tucker followed Cooper Dickens' leadoff single in the first with a two-run blast to rightfield.

"I think when you get to see one of the best hitters in the country hit every day, I think we all get excited," Braun said about Tucker's momentum-grabbing shot. "He's got an ability to do great things."

First baseman Jake Bak had an RBI single later in the inning to give Plant a 3-0 lead. And Dickens, who finished 2-for-3, had a leadoff triple in the second inning and scored moments later to extend the lead.

Against reliever Tyler Powell, Robinson (8-13) had a big fourth inning. It plated three runs with help from a Darius Autry two-run triple and a Plant error to pull within a single run.

So once again, it was up to the pitching to step up.

Plant didn't allow a single run for the rest of the night. And Zach Rose, who earned the save, struck out four over the final two innings, including a three-pitch strikeout to end the game. Stephen Chamblee and Matt Vaka pushed across insurance runs in the sixth.

With just two regular-season games to play before the district tournament, Braun isn't about to let his Panthers (18-5), who have a two-game lead against second-place Alonso in the Class 8A, District 7 standings, rest on their laurels.

He is an integral part of the most complete team Braun said he has seen lately at Plant, but Woodford doesn't let that fact stick around in his mind for too long.

"It does (feel good)," Woodford said.

"But we still know that every team is out to get us."

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