Skylar Black’s red-hot bat finished off Whitney Saturday.
Black doubled twice and hit a leadoff homer in the fifth to lead the Paradise Panthers to an 8-7 victory in game two of the Class 2A bi-district series.
The win followed the Panthers’ 8-2 win in the series opener Friday and earned them a spot in the area round against Sunnyvale.
That series begins at 7 p.m. Thursday at Grapevine High School. Game two is at the same time and place Friday. Game three, if needed, will be 1 p.m. Saturday.
“It meant a lot. Last year was disappointing how we played,” Black said. “It means a lot to be moving on.”
Black was a major reason why the Panthers are moving on. For the series, he went 6-for-7 with three extra-base hits.
“He was seeing the ball well. He was being patient, going deep in counts and seeing a lot of pitches,” said Paradise coach Mike Fehler.
Black knocked in a run in the first Saturday with a double. He brought in two more with a double in the second and gathered his fourth RBI with the homer in the fifth that put the Panthers up 8-2.
Black’s offense was more than enough for Caiden Berry, who held Whitney to two runs – one earned – on six hits in five innings. He struck out five.
Whitney plated five runs in the seventh to close within a run, but Dillon Meadows went to the mound and got the final two outs to preserve the win.
Meadows’ save followed his strong, six-inning performance Friday. He struck out 15, allowing two runs on two hits with four walks.
He didn’t get run support until the sixth inning, when the Panthers scored six – including a pair on Austin Hogan’s triple. Hogan went 3-for-4.
Against Sunnyvale, the Panthers will face a potent lineup led by Jake Wilcox and Wesley Phillips. Phillips has 20 extra-base hits, including three homers and a .462 average. Wilcox is batting .367.
Wilcox is also Sunnyvale’s top pitcher, entering the series with a 12-5 record and 6-2 record.
“We match up well,” Fehler said. “We were both 9-3 in district.”
The Paradise coach added that his team has already faced several quality teams this season, including top-ranked Brock and second-ranked Holliday.
“We should not be real stressed,” Fehler said.