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Top-seeded Knoxville used a four-run fourth inning to erase a two-run deficit and end Independence’s upset bid, outlasting the eighth-seeded Mustangs, 5-3, in the first class 3A quarterfinal Tuesday afternoon at Principal Park.

Down 3-1 entering the bottom of the fourth, Knoxville strung together four hits, three doubles and a single, to rally back against Independence pitcher Austin Pink.

After Mike Jacks struck out to begin the inning, Lance Daugherty blooped a ball to shallow left-center that fell in for a double after two Mustangs collided in the outfield. Adam Thielk followed with an RBI double to cut Independence’s lead to 3-2.

Kellen Glover and Jacob Cunningham then hit consecutive RBI doubles score the tying and eventual game-winning runs. With two outs, Justin Katich hit an RBI single to cushion the Panthers lead at 5-3.

Early on, the Mustangs' Cinderella run to the state tournament looked as if it might continue as they took advantage of a pair of Knoxville errors in the second inning.

Nick Zieser led of the top of the second and reached on an error by third baseman Blake McWilliams, whose throw to first found the dirt before the glove. Pink followed with a single and Mike Reiff hit a line drive to left field that evaded the glove of Cunningham for the second error of the inning that allowed Zieser to score. Independence catcher Jeff Burns hit an RBI groundout to plate the second run of the inning and put the Mustangs up 3-1.

Knoxville starter Eric Jones (10-2) picked up the victory for the Panthers, tossing a complete game and giving up three runs (one earned) on five hits. He struck out five and walked one.

Pink (6-6) received the loss for Independence. He surrendered five runs on nine hits and stuck out three over six innings.

Knoxville runs their record to 25-9 and advances to the 3A semifinals. The Panthers will play Charles City on Friday at noon at Principal Park.

Independence ends its season at 14-24.


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