By Caleb Bailey, Staff Writer
The Armstrong Pirates baseball team entered this weekend tied with North Georgia for the regular season Peach Belt Conference championship. The Nighthawks dropped one of their first two games on April 25 while rain pushed the Pirates’ series back one day.
The Pirates took the field against Columbus State on April 26. The Pirates got off to a hot start by scoring eleven runs over the first four innings.
Junior Will Austin scored the first run in the bottom of the second inning by reaching first base on a fielder’s choice. The Pirates added four runs RBI single by junior Cody Sherlin, a two-RBI single by junior JT Phillips, and on a wild pitch.
The Cougars answered in the top of the third inning with a pair of solo home runs by Jackson Oliver and Mike McClellan. This did not deter the Pirates as they added on two runs in their next trip to the plate thanks to a walk and a fielder’s choice RBI by Phillips.
The PIrates added on four runs in the fourth inning thanks to a single RBI by senior Tyler Avera and a three-run home run by Sherlin. The Pirates had their biggest inning of the day in the seventh where they scored seven runs. Three of those runs came off of the Pirates’ second three-run home run off the bat of senior RJ Dennard. The Pirates went on the win Game 1 18-2.
Junior Corey Kafka pitched a complete game and allowed six hits while striking out four batters. (insert Kafka quote)
The Pirates could not take their momentum into Game 2 as the Cougars gave them a taste of their own medicine by blasting three home runs. The Pirates had opened up a 5-1 lead in the early goings of the game, but the Cougars responded by tying the game up with a three run blast by Blake Edwards in the fourth inning.
This started a good run for the Cougars, as they scored eight more runs over the next three innings and shut out the Pirates to move on to a 13-5 win. To make matters worse, the Nighthawks of North Georgia won their game on Sunday against Montevallo that eliminated the Pirates from winning the PBC championship. They did, however, clinch the number two seed for the PBC tournament.
On April 27, the Pirates hosted the rubber match of their series with the Cougars. The game was also Senior Day and the Pirates honored seven graduating seniors. The game did not go as planned for the home team as the Cougars pounced out to 4-0 lead in the first inning.
The Cougars on four separate occasions in the first inning. A throwing error, two RBI singles, and an RBI double gave the visitors the early lead and they never looked back.
The Pirates did all they could to get back into the game, but they only were able to muster two runs in the game. The two runs came off the bats of seniors Zach Lance and Avera. Even with the emotions running high, the Pirates could battle their way back into the game and the rival Cougars moved on to a dominant 12-2 win.
The Pirates host their final series of the regular season when they play Belmont Abbey starting May 1. They already know they play Francis Marion University in the first round of the PBC tournament, that takes place at Columbus State and starts on May 8.