By Caleb Bailey, Staff Writer
The Armstrong Pirates baseball team played an important series against Peach Belt Conference opponent Flagler this past weekend. The Saints had the upperhand in the first two games of the series as the Pirates fell out of first place in the PBC standings.
The Saints plated four runs in the first two innings off of RBIs by Flagler’s Shawn Herndon, Nick Oberg, and Lorenzo Butler. The Saints went on to win the first game 6-0, the Pirates’ second consecutive shutout loss. Junior Caleb Weaver took his first loss of the season on the mound with ten hits and all six runs allowed in six and two-thirds innings of work for the Pirates.
The Saints used a big seventh inning in the second game on April 11 to push their way past the Pirates and seal the series win. Junior Corey Kafka allowed four runs in the seventh inning that began with a two-run home run by Oberg.
The Pirates started a small rally in the bottom of the inning after a single RBI by senior Zach Lance and a sacrifice RBI by junior WIll Austin. The rally was not enough, however, as the Pirates lost the game 5-2, which put them in a tie for second place in the PBC standings with the Saints.
The Pirates bounced back to avoid the sweep with a big win in the third game on April 12. The Pirates opened up a 5-1 lead in the third inning after a wild pitch broke the 1-1 tie. Lance and junior Berry Aldridge each singled and junior Kendrick Thompson doubled for RBIs. The Saints cut the lead to two after a Nick Kranick home run in the fourth inning.
The Pirates continued to dominate as they never let the Saints back within three runs. The bottom of the fifth inning saw freshman Chandler Corley triple and Austin single for RBIs. The Pirates moved on to win the game 12-7 and move into sole possession of second place in the PBC, trailing North Georgia by a game and a half.
Head coach Calvain Culberson talked about his team’s persistence to seal a win in the series: “Our team responded well today with having their backs against the wall. Our hitters made really good adjustments at the plate today and hit more ground balls and line drives instead of fly balls. Hopefully this win will get us going again.”
The Pirates were paced by Aldridge at the plate, who went 3-4 with two RBIs. Junior Pete Nagel nabbed his fourth win of the season to stay perfect with six hits and seven strikeouts in six innings of work. Junior Cody Sherlin talked about Nagel’s work on the mound.
“With Nagel on the mound, we have some confidence behind him. The energy was great today and we got some offensive production from everybody today. Hopefully we can carry that momentum into next weekend.”
Senior RJ Dennard talked about the team needing to stay focused for the rest of the season as the playoffs approach: “We have got to go out there and win every game that we can. We can’t worry about anyone else. Winning games and series is going to be the key the rest of the way out.”
The Pirates are currently 27-11 and 16-7 in the PBC. They travel to Milledgeville for a three game PBC series against Georgia College that begins on April 17.