JEFFERSON CITY — In a battle between two of the nation’s most successful baseball programs, the Elder Panthers came up with a winning formula.
The squad from Cincinnati struck early, added some insurance late and locked down Dobyns-Bennett’s bats throughout en route to a 7-0 victory on Saturday afternoon at Jefferson County High School.
Elder went into the day ranked third nationally in all-time wins with 1,389, trailing D-B, the No. 2 winningest program in the nation, by 28 games.
The Panthers whittled that deficit to 27 thanks in large part to Nick Beard, a tall right-hander who allowed just one hit across six shutout innings of work.
“That was an awesome job,” Elder coach Mark Thompson said of his ace, who has signed to play Division I baseball at Northern Kentucky. “He worked ahead in the count and changed speeds, mixed it up.
“Good hitting teams, you’re going to have to pitch backwards a little bit. So he was throwing his changeup and curveball behind in the count a little bit and that was key.”
A single by Payton Marshall in the bottom of the second inning wound up being D-B’s only hit, but the Tribe was able to put some runners on base by drawing six walks.
Trailing 1-0 after surrendering an RBI single to Ben Kenning in the top of the first, the Indians (20-4) had runners on second and third on two occasions, but were unable to come up with a key hit to bring them home.
“We didn’t get any key hits, and we just missed it a couple times,” D-B coach Ryan Wagner said. “I thought we had a good swing or two in those situations, but that’s going to happen.
“Some of them bounce your way and some of them don’t.”
The Tribe’s inability to generate any offense spoiled a solid effort by Caleb Cook.
After giving up a run on two hits in the first inning, Cook didn’t surrender another hit until the sixth. The sophomore allowed just two earned runs on four hits in six innings but still got tagged with the loss.
The wheels came off a bit defensively for the Tribe in the later innings. Elder (7-4) scored a run in the sixth on a passed ball and another on an error. A costly throwing error in the seventh allowed two more Panthers to score as the game slipped away.
“Our pitchers pitched well enough for us to win the ballgame,” Wagner said. “We didn’t play good enough defense. Against good teams, you’ve got to be able to make plays.”
Kyle Orloff doubled twice for Elder while Jimmy White and Alex Lind each connected on a run-scoring single in the seventh inning.