Narrow 5-4 setback first for Preston squad
The Preston Pirate varsity fall baseball team suffered their first loss of the 2023 season Tuesday evening at home against the Latta Panthers.
In Tuesday’s first loss of 2023, the Pirates found themselves in an early hole, 5-0, after two and onehalf innings and rallied for four runs late in the contest to come up one run shy, 5-4.
The narrow defeat puts the Preston squad (ranked 6th in Class A) at 10-1 on the year and came in the Pirates’ second-straight battle with a Class A Top 15 team, as Latta entered ranked 12th overall.
The Pirates were back in action at 12 p.m. Thursday with a first-round meeting with the New Lima Falcons in the Preston Wooden Bat Classic. The annual home fall baseball tournament is scheduled to conclude on Friday.
The next scheduled action for Preston following the home tournament will be the Stuart Tournament next Thursday-Saturday.
In Tuesday’s Top 15 battle with Latta, the visitors broke the scoreless tie with three runs in the top of the second and added two in their half of the third for a 5-0 advantage.
The host Pirates ended the shutout bid with a run in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI single by Dustin Dunlap.
The Preston squad cut the deficit to one, 5-4, in the bottom of the fifth when Bradley Winford drove the first pitch he saw from Latta starter Darien Miller sailing over the left-field wall for a 3-run home run.
The Pirates were unable to produce any runs in their final two at-bats of regulation to suffer the heartbreaking 5-4 defeat.
Besides Dunlap’s RBI single in the fourth and Winford’s 3-run home run in the fifth, the other Preston base hits against Latta came on singles by Luke Hankins, Hunter McElhannon, and Braxton Kennedy.
Other Pirate baserunners on Tuesday were Hankins (hit by pitch), Kennedy (walk), Jayden Herring (error), Kaden Dean (walk), Kellen Dean (walk, error), and Easton Shaw (walk, fielder’s choice).
Kellen Dean was saddled with the pitching loss for Preston, allowing three runs on no hits with four walks, one strikeout, and one hit batter in one and two-third innings of work.
Herring worked just two-thirds of an inning of relief, giving up two runs on two hits with two walks.
Kennedy went the final four and two-third innings in relief, allowing no runs on four hits, striking out four and hitting a batter.
— Latta 5, Preston 4
Latta: 0-3-2-0-0-0-0 5-6-2 Preston: 0 – 0 – 0 – 1 – 3 – 0 – 0 4 – 5 – 0 WP: Darien Miller LP: Kellen Dean SV: Landon Wolfe HR: Preston: Bradley Winford