Aaron Pringle, Staff Writer
The Armstrong State University baseball team swept Peach Belt Conference opponent Georgia Southwestern State in a three-game series this weekend at Pirate Field.
The Pirates (8-6, 4-5 PBC) are on a four-game winning streak, while the Hurricanes (9-6, 0-6 PBC) have dropped six straight after starting the year 9-0.
In Game 1 Saturday, Feb. 27, Georgia Southwestern knocked in five runs in the fifth inning on four doubles, taking a 6-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth. The pirates bounced back with three runs on an RBI double by senior JT Phillips, a sacrifice fly by senior Berry Aldridge and an error to get within two.
The Pirates then put up three more runs in the sixth off an RBI single by senior Cody Sherlin and a two-run double by junior Ryan Patterson.
In the top of the eighth, the Hurricanes tied the game up on a Devyn Newberry RBI single, but Armstrong answered later in the inning with an RBI single by senior Jerad Curry and a suicide squeeze bunt RBI by junior Kendrick Thompson to make the score 9-7.
The Hurricanes made it interesting in the ninth after getting within one on an RBI groundout. With the tying run on third and two outs, senior Tyler Graham (1-2) got Zach Barron to ground out to short to end the game and get the win.
Graham pitched two innings of four-hit, two run relief, walking three, to get the win. Mitch Holloway (0-1) took the loss for the Hurricanes in relief, giving up two hits and two runs in two innings, walking one while striking out two.
Patterson went 3-for-4 with three RBI’s, including his first home run of the season, to lead the Pirates offensively in game one.
In Game 2, Phillips (3-1) pitched 6 1/3 innings, giving up five hits and three runs, walking five and striking out nine, to earn the victory in the 11-4 win. Sherlin had an outstanding day, going 5-for-5 with a pair of doubles and four RBI’s – giving the senior eight straight hits between the two games on Saturday.
Sophomore Chandler Corley added three hits and three RBI’s to help the Pirates get both wins Saturday. Georgia Southwestern starter Jordan Mcllwain (2-2) took the loss, giving up seven hits and six runs, four earned – in 4 1/3 innings of work, walking four and striking out one.
In the final game Sunday, Feb. 28, the Pirates’ five-run fourth inning turned out to be enough to pick up the 6-4 win, completing the three-game sweep.
The game went scoreless until the bottom of the fourth, when the Pirates loaded the bases with one out against the Hurricane starter Layne Gusler (1-2). Spencer Harvey hit a bases-clearing double down the left field line, driving in three. Harvey would later score on a wild pitch, then the Pirates capped the fourth off with an RBI double by Stetson, giving the Pirates the 5-0 lead.
Georgia Southwestern quickly answered back in the top of the fifth with two RBI singles by Evan Alderman and Alex Kranick before Avery Fagan got an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
The Hurricanes would score two more runs in the top of sixth and seventh inning nearing the score to 5-4 before the Pirates got an extra insurance run on an error in the bottom of the seventh.
Graham received the save for Armstrong State, while Fagan picked up the win in relief, giving up six hits and two runs in 2 2/3 innings of work. Gusler received the loss for the Hurricanes, giving up six hits and five runs in four innings pitched.
The Pirates hosted Claflin in a non-conference matchup Tuesday, March 1 and return to the field this weekend with a road series against the Lander Bearcats.