In mid-March, Orange Coach Dean Dease hoped his young Orange squad would be a good team by April.

On Thursday night at the Hilltop Invitational, there were reasons to believe he hopes would come to fruition. On Friday night, there weren’t.

Athens Drive, coming in 3-10, bolted out to a 5-0 lead and defeated Orange 7-3 at Panther field. Jaguars centerfielder Sam Enders went 3-for-4 with 3 RBI, while 2nd baseman Braxton Boddorf came off the bench to score twice and finish the game in relief of freshman starter Zach Hurand, who earned his 3rd win.

The Panthers briefly had hopes of tying the game in the 3rd. After centerfielder Jaydin Poteat lined a single to left field, second baseman Jason Slaughter doubled to right field to reduce the Orange deficit to 5-1. After Caige Clayton walked, Mark Willms singled to left field to score Slaughter. With two on and two out, 1st baseman Eric Nichols slapped a 2-1 fastball to left that cleared the wall, albeit around 10 feet foul. Nichols walked, but Ryan Puckett flew out to Enders to end the threat.

Orange’s only other run came in the 5th when freshman shortstop Joey Berini dropped an opposite field floater to left field, leading to a triple. In the subsequent at-bat, Slaughter singled him in.

The Panthers conclude the Hilltop Invitational against Western Harnett on Saturday afternoon at 2:30 at Panther field. You can hear the game on

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