PLAYMAKERS: Carroll County shortstop John Michael Adams (above) comes up throwing to first baseman Keifer McIntyre on a ground ball and center fielder Justin Ray (below) tracks a line drive to the outfield. The Panthers were solid in the field but sluggish at the plate in a 4-2 setback at Gallatin County on Thursday. (Staff photos by Mark Campbell)
PLAYMAKERS: Carroll County shortstop John Michael Adams (above) comes up throwing to first baseman Keifer McIntyre on a ground ball and center fielder Justin Ray (below) tracks a line drive to the outfield. The Panthers were solid in the field but sluggish at the plate in a 4-2 setback at Gallatin County on Thursday. (Staff photos by Mark Campbell)
WARSAW, Ky. - Gallatin County limited short-handed Carroll County to just two hits and broke up a 2-2 tie with two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to take a big District 31 and North Central Kentucky Conference baseball win from the Panthers on Thursday.

The Wildcats, winless through five games, managed just six hits themselves but still plated two runs on a wild pitch and an RBI double in the bottom of the first inning and two more markers on back-to-back singles, two straight walks and another single in the fifth.

That was just enough to send Carroll County (4-2) to its second straight defeat and put the Panthers in a 0-1 hole in both District 31 seeding games and NCKC play.

"That was dissapointing. We didn't have any effort at all," Carroll County head coach Jimmy Ray said afterwards. "If you can't get excited to play Gallatin County in a district game, there's something wrong."

Carroll, which had scored an average of just under 10 runs per game heading into Thursday's tilt, started off strong with back-to-back one-out singles by Austin Dunn and Seth Hicks in the top of the first before John Michael Adams was hit by a pitch to load the bases and Dunn scored when Zakk Hicks reached on an error by the shortstop.

Keifer McIntyre struck out looking but Carroll struck again before Gallatin County starter Chase O'Connor could wiggle out of the inning when the senior right-hander hit Jacob Wise with a pitch to force in the second unearned run of the frame. Will Wallace then popped up to the infield to end the inning with Carroll off to a 2-0 lead.

But what looked like another gangbuster start for the Panthers quickly faded into a string of rallies that all died for lack of a timely hit, leaving the two-run first as all the offense the Panthers would muster on a blustery day in Warsaw.

O'Connor walked the bases loaded with two outs in the top of the second before a grounder to short killed that threat. Carroll stranded two - both walks - in the third when a fly ball to center failed to produce rus and the Panthers went down in order in the fourth as O'Connor finally seemed to settle down.

Carroll's last big threat came in the top of the fifth when Zakk Hicks reached on another error and McIntyre advanced Hicks with a perfect sacrifice bunt before O'Conner plunked Wise between the shoulder blades to put two on with one out. But before Carroll could capitalize, Taylor Hill smashed a sharply hit ball to shortstop that was vacuumed up for a perfect 6-4-3 double kill to end the inning.

Carroll managed one base-runner in the sixth - O'Connor's sixth walk against five strikeouts - before Gallatin brought on closer senior Joe Sargent in the seventh to retire the side in order and seal the two-hitter for the Wildcats' first win of the season.

"We didn't have any effort and enthusiasm. We were moping around here and feeling sorry for ourselves and (Gallatin) sure didn't feel sorry for us," said Ray. "We left some people on base but we had two starters who didn't play today because of injuries and our leadoff batter is battling some illness so we certainly weren't at full strength but that's no excuse."

Starters Austin Crowell and Boo Donahue sat out the game with the injuries while leadoff batter Justin Ray was not feeling well and went 0-for-3 with a walk. Coach Ray said he knew Carroll was going to have to find offense in some different places Thursday, but he didn't anticipate the team would roll out for the contest completely flat.

"We just didn't have any effort. The shirt on our back says 'Hustle takes no skill' and we didn't hustle and we didn't play," Ray said.

Carroll went into the game with 62 hits in five games so to be limited to just two on Thursday was a huge difference maker in the Panther setback.

"I think that was all us," Ray said. "No knock against them, but the majority of the pitchers we've seen this year are better than them and we've hit the ball well. I've really been pleased with the way we've hit the ball this year. We've scored double digits four out of our first five games and the game against Collins - probably the No. 1 team in the region - we put the bat on the ball but we hit it right at people. Today I don't know what it was. I guess you're due one of these at one time or another but you sure don't hope it's a district game."

Freshman Seth Hicks worked the first two innings, giving up two runs - one earned - on three hits and a walk while striking out one. Seth's older brother, junior Zakk Hicks (1-1), pitched the final four innings to take the loss, allowing two earned runs on three hits and three walks while striking out two.

Seniors Nolan Wilson and Curtis Flynn were both 2-for-3 for Gallatin with Flynn scoring two runs and Wilson accounting for the only extra base hit of the game with the first-inning double. Bryson Caldwell and Mason McCord were both 1-for-3.

Although disappointed in taking a loss in such an important game this early in the season, Ray noted that there's plenty of time to make up for the setback in what looks to be a very competitive district and conference.

"It's a pretty wide open race ... I don't think anybody going to go through this district or conference without taking some lumps," the coach said. "There's a lot of people who are going to beat up on each other this year so I'm not going to make too much out of this loss. I don't think anybody's going to roll through this thing undefeated."