The walk to Clubb was followed by a strikeout of Jayden Nicholson, which should have been the final out of the inning. Instead, Rambo got a chance to strike with the extra out given at the start of the seventh to the Panthers.
Rambo, who hadn’t touched the ball all night with two walks and a strikeout in three previous plate appearances, didn’t hesitate. On the first pitch he saw in his fourth trip to home plate, Rambo turned on a fastball and hammered a no-doubt drive onto the Sigourney football practice field.
“I just kind of decided the first three at-bats hadn’t gone very well for me. I might as well take a stab at the first pitch and see what happens,” Rambo said. “It felt good off the bat.”
The home run trend continued on Thursday for the Panthers, who haven’t lost for two weeks since a 5-0 shutout loss to Cardinal at home that dropped Pekin to 3-6. The Panthers fifth straight win on Thursday night featured four runs brought home by the long ball, including a game-tying lead-off home run by catcher Cole Reighard that also went to left but needed some help hoping off the top of the fence before landing over.
“We’re seeing the ball really well lately,” Pekin first-year baseball coach Curtis Reighard said. “I think that’s what led to us hitting a lot more home runs lately.”
Rambo, meanwhile, got the call to finish what he started in the seventh as he took the mound in relief of the Panthers’ own freshman starting pitcher. Keaton Winn went six innings for Pekin, striking out nine batters while allowing just one earned run.
“That was really an impressive pitching effort by two freshmen,” Reighard said.