The final District 14-5A playoff spot was on the line in a two-game series between Midlothian and Red Oak this week.
And it was the Panthers pitching staff that delivered, tossing a pair of shutouts to sweep the Red Oak Hawks, 7-0 and 3-0, in the last two games of the regular season.
The wins punched the Panthers playoff ticket as the fourth seed out of District 14-5A, while also eliminating Red Oak.
Caden Hawkins spun a complete-game gem in a 7-0 Midlothian victory in game one Thursday in Red Oak.
Hawkins struck out eight, walked two and allowed just three hits. He needed 98 pitches.
The game was initially scheduled for Tuesday but was suspended in the top of the first inning due to lightning.
After the win, Midlothian head baseball coach Ray Hydes said he thought the Panthers played "pretty good and got good pitching and some timely hitting."
"In this district, everyone is pretty much even and it's been a real tough district," Hydes continued. "We just challenged our kids and we knew Red Oak had a good team and that coach [Jay] Johnson does a great job. I am proud of the way we played but we still have a long way to go and it ain't over until it's over. We have one more game."
Red Oak head baseball coach Jay Johnson noted the Hawks did not play poorly, but "just didn't hit a couple of spots and they got some key two-out hits."
Johnson pointed to the first inning as the real key to the Panthers win, as Midlothian had runners on second and third with two outs and Hunter Harrington at the plate.
"He fouled off two tough pitches and then singled to right to go up 2-0," Johnson said. "With their kid (Hawkins) pitching with a lead, he's a pretty good one and he pitches well with a lead."
Anthony Ferrante (3-4) provided the lone home run for the Panthers in the win, sending an 0-2 pitch over the wall in left-center field for a two-run round-tripper. He also drove in a run in the top of the third inning with a double that scored Ryan McCaskill.
McCaskill (2-2) and Jackson Quinn (1-4) also drove in one run each for the Panthers.
Jackson Quinn and Caden Copeland combined for the 3-0 shutout in game two to complete the sweep of the Red Oak Hawks and officially put the Panthers into the 5A postseason.
Quinn earned the win after he struck out six, walked two and scattered three hits across 5.2 innings of work. Copeland recorded the final four outs – three via the strikeout — and did not allow a base runner.
Midlothian took the only lead it would ever need in the bottom of the first inning when McCaskill singled home Nathan Humphreys, who reached on a lead-off walk.
Humphreys later scored on a passed ball in the bottom of the sixth inning and McCaskill then drove in a second run with a single to center field that plated Josh Tankersley.
Hernan Zamora took the loss for Red Oak after a very well-pitch six innings of work. He struck out six, walked two and allowed three earned runs on three hits.
Trevor Gattin collected a pair of hits for the Hawks, which included a double. Tallon Heine also doubled for Red Oak.
The Panthers will now face Forney in the 5A Region II area championship this week. Game one is at 7:30 p.m. in Forney. Game two is at 7:30 p.m. in Midlothian. Game three, if necessary, is at 4 p.m. at Horner Ballpark on the campus of Dallas Baptist University.
"The thing that I am going to take the most is how our kids competed with their backs against the wall," Hydes said of the Panthers. "They came out and fought and that is what I wanted to see."
Fred Phipps/Daily Light contributed to this report.