The Orange baseball team starts conference play this week with plenty of momentum. Last week, the Panthers posted back-to-back shutout wins over Northwood and Grimsley. It’s been a strong start for catcher Ryan Horton, who hit his first varsity home run in a 4-1 victory over Topsail on March 4. Horton hit a grand slam in the sixth inning to win the game for the Panthers. Last week, Horton belted a RBI double to conclude a three-run first inning as the Panthers rolled past Grimsley 12-0. Horton also had a bases-loaded walk to drive in Wyatt Hedrick during an eight-run third inning. Junior pitcher Garrett Sawyer earned his second career win in the victory over Topsail. Sawyer relieved senior Cross Clayton and threw four shutout innings, allowing just three this. He struck out seven. Sawyer played his first varsity game last year in the state playoffs against Triton and was part of a memorable rally where the Panthers came back from five runs down to beat the Hawks 9-8 in ten innings. Horton is one of the few returning starters playing the same position that he played in 2023. Against Northwood on Wednesday, Horton had a single as the Panthers won 5-0. Orange will travel to Western Alamance for its Central Conference opener in Elon on Tuesday night.


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