But the Panthers did potentially gain something more dear to them — momentum for the tournament.
Perry rebounded from Monday’s heart-breaking 10-inning loss to Lake and rallied for a 12-5 win against the host Blue Streaks.
The Panthers (13-11, 8-4) did their part for the league. But they also needed McKinley to knock off Hoover to gain a piece of the title. That didn’t happen. Hoover (18-7, 9-3) won 5-3.
“It really doesn’t bother us that much,” said Perry senior Kyle Kester, who barely blinked when told of Hoover’s win. “We’re focused on Thursday for the first tournament game. ... We look to get rolling, and this definitely helped us out to start the journey.”
They know the journey well. The Panthers got hot late last season and advanced to Columbus.
Perry, which hosts a sectional semifinal Thursday against Green, looked tournament ready Tuesday. Are the stars aligning for another run?
“I couldn’t have told it was going to happen last year, let alone this year,” Perry head coach Dave Jones said.
A night after they could not get anything to fall in — the Panthers totaled one hit during a seven-inning stretch of Monday’s loss — they found green grass on a regular basis Tuesday. Perry banged out 16 hits.
Jones shook his head.
“That’s baseball,” he said. “If I could explain that I wouldn’t be coaching here.”
Kester led the onslaught with a 4-for-4 performance. He doubled, walked and scored four runs.
“That’s how baseball is,” said Kester, who took the loss on the mound Monday. “Some days the baseball gods are with you, other times they aren’t.”
Lake jumped to a 3-0 first-inning lead Tuesday, just like Perry did Monday.
And just like Lake on Monday, Perry came right back Tuesday. Jared Purdy smacked a soaring two-run home run to right in the second inning for Perry.
This chilly game, with only one 1-2-3 frame between the two teams, was just getting warmed up.
Lake led 5-3 in the fifth when Perry took control.
RBI singles from Colin Guscoff and John Justyn tied the score at 5-5. Later in the inning, consecutive errors by Lake plated the go-ahead runs for Perry.
In the seventh, the Panthers scored five more times and batted around with the help of two more errors, two walks and a hit batter.