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Baseball caps achieving weekend series with 12-8 win

April 3, 2016

MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Teams that seize the opportunity often apply pressure.

The Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) baseball team held a tight squeeze of its home turf Sunday (Apr. 3) with a 12-8 win to sweep a three-game Region X series against Catawba Valley Community College at Hooker Field. It was the fifth straight win for the Patriots at home over the Red Hawks after sweeping a doubleheader last season, Mar. 14.

The Patriots’ opportunistic ways led to timely hits and big innings over the weekend, including another six-plus run inning Sunday. PHCC was able to hold on to a multi-run lead following a seven-run, third inning, with five of the runs coming with two outs.

Sophomore Ryan Coale (Lexington, Va.) extended his hit streak to 10 games with a two-out, two-run single to jump start the two-out rally in the third. After a series of errors extended the inning, the Patriots (23-13, 3-3) took advantage of the extra runners as freshman first baseman Billy Keegan (Seekonk, Mass.) hit a three-run home run two batters later, turning a two-run deficit into a five-run lead.

The two home runs capped a four-homer weekend for the Patriot offense and now has 26 on the season. PHCC also took advantage of several free bases with 20 walks and six hit batters.

“It’s all about putting the ball in play hard, laying bunts down in the right spots and putting pressure on the defense,: PHCC coach Frank Jagoda said. “This game is hard enough to play it clean, so when you put pressure on the defense it adds an extra element to it. We did a good job of taking advantage of some miscues on their end and capitalizing on those mistakes.

“We were able to toughen up when we needed to. I think last week we had bad innings in the field, bad innings on the mound, and some bad innings at the plate and it carried over to other facets of the game. This weekend whether it was a good inning or a bad inning we showed the ability to leave one part of the game in the dugout to concentrate on the other parts and that’s important.”

Sophomore Jose Castro (Richmond, Va.) hit a two-run home run in the seventh inning to make it 12-6. He finished the weekend with hits in all three games, going 5-for-11 with four RBI and scoring four times. Jagoda said Castro’s presence in the middle to bottom third of the order has been key to the overall offense.

“I don’t think it matters where people hit at (in the lineup). We all trust who hits in front of us and behind us. Another thing we’ve been doing is keeping the momentum going with our pitchers and keeping that fire in the dugout.”

Four pitchers stitched together the nine-inning win for the Patriots. Sophomore Anthony Zona (Mechanicsville, Va.) worked into the sixth but got into early trouble. Freshman Robert Fitzwater (Suffolk, Va.) worked out of the jam in the sixth and pitched a scoreless seventh. A double-play ball halted a Catawba Valley rally in the eighth for sophomore Miguel Lopez (Coral Springs, Fla.) before sophomore transfer Kemper Terry (Collinsville, Va.) struck out a pair a got a groundout after a leadoff double in the ninth.

Jagoda said the team did a good job of keeping innings at a minimum but needs to continue to focus on responding with scoreless innings after an offensive break out. The offense was able to respond back for the most part despite having just five hits to the Red Hawks’ 16, which left 10 runners on base.

It was the first three-game sweep for either team in the series over the last four seasons. Catawba Valley has won two of three in North Carolina the last three seasons.

PHCC concludes a five-game homestand Wednesday (Apr. 6) against Region X, Division I and nationally ranked Spartanburg Methodist College (S.C.). The Patriots lost three of four at Spartanburg on Feb. 27-28.

Filed under: Baseball

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