Prairie Heights nipped a scrappy Central Noble squad, 1-0 Wednesday night in the opening game of the 2A baseball sectional at Westview.
The Panthers scored the only run they would need in the first inning when Dylan Stayner singled home Jacob Heller, who had walked to lead off the frame. Heights would place runners on base in each of its last six at bats, but could not push across any more markers, leaving a total of 14 stranded.
Meanwhile, Panther pitcher Corey Johnson was dominating the Cougar hitters, allowing only one to reach second base in the first six innings. In the seventh, Central Noble got the tying and winning runs on base with two outs, but Johnson induced Brock Noe to tap a grounder to third baseman Stayner, who threw out the Cougar to end the game.
Mason Smith’s single in the fourth was the lone hit allowed by Johnson, who walked two, hit one batter and struckout 10. Central Noble hurler Jon Van, who wriggled out of several jams, took the loss.
Coach Nick Pfafman’s 17-9 Panthers will face Bremen in the semifinal round Thursday at 5 p.m. The defending champion Lions shaded Marshall County rival LaVille, 6-4 in the second game Wednesday.
Fremont and Westview will battle in the second semifinal Thursday. The winners of those games return to Emma Saturday at 12 noon to vie for the sectional crown and a spot in the 2A regional at Whiting set for June 7.