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Baseball takes series vs. Potomac State; sweeps first doubleheader of season

March 6, 2016

MARTINSVILLE, Va. — The Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) baseball team desperately sought a doubleheader sweep Sunday (Mar. 6) to earn its first four-game series win of the season.

Pitching helped make it a reality as the Patriots gutted out a 6-5 victory in Game 1 before riding the arm of freshman Parker Brann (Leasburg, N.C.) to the series win over NJCAA, Division I Potomac State, capping the weekend with an 11-3 win at Hooker Field.

“It’s a good way to end a weekend that’s for sure. This is the first series win for this group and I’m excited and happy for them,” first-year Patriots coach Frank Jagoda said. “There’s still a lot of work to do and it’s a quick turnaround.”

No. 3 Patriots starter, sophomore Anthony Zona (Mechanicsville, Va.), battled through five-plus innings in Game 1 before running into trouble in the sixth inning. Freshman reliever Robert Fitzwater (Suffolk, Va.) got out of a bases loaded, no out situation and kept the game tied after five and half innings before picking up the win. Brann then had a no-hit bid broken up along with the shutout after giving up a three-run home run in seventh inning of Game 2. He finished with five strikeouts and three walks on 93 pitches in the complete-game effort.

Brann retired the first 10 batters he faced before issuing a walk with one out in the fourth. He faced the minimum until his second walk in the seventh forced him to deal with multiple runners for the only time. Errorless defense behind him aided in calming the right-hander’s nerves, he said, and kept him loose as he eyed a no hitter with three outs remaining.

“I was trying to carry on conversation in the dugout with the guys and (the no hitter) came up in the back of my mind a couple of times,” the freshman said in dealing with the no-hit situation. “I was doing anything to keep my mind off of it.”

Jagoda said the pitching staff, as a whole, commanded the strike zone well throughout the weekend, giving the team a chance to win each game.

The offense was vital in picking up a tough defensive game in the opener Sunday. It scored in every inning but the fourth. It was able to manufacture runs with timely hits, sacrifices, and solid situational execution. PHCC won Game 1 on a two-out, walk-off hit-by-pitch to Jose Castro (Richmond, Va.).

“Little things like a leadoff base hit or a lead off walk, take second on a dirt ball and then move the guy over with a ground ball to the right side. We’d score a guy with a sacrifice fly in the first inning,” Jagoda said. “That situational baseball is important.

“The guys didn’t give in and didn’t let those defensive miscues affect their game. We were able to scratch at the plate and when they answered, we answered. That’s important and in the end it was an ugly end to an ugly game,” he added.

Sophomore second baseman Rashad Stewart (Dinwiddie, Va.) had a 5-for-8 day out of the leadoff spot and atoned for a 1-for-7 performance the day before. The effort bumped his batting average to .339. Fellow sophomore and middle infielder Jonah McReynolds had a hit in each game of the weekend and added three runs Sunday. Freshman Brandon Nania (Murrysville, Pa.) also had a hit in all four games and drove in five runs Sunday.

“It was big confidence booster because I haven’t been having the best luck at the plate,” Stewart said. “Today, for me to put the ball in play and find the holes opened up more for me seeing the ball and find my groove with the pitches.”

Sophomore transfer Ryan Coale (Lexington, Va.) hit a go-ahead home run in the sixth inning of Game 1 and added a two-run double in Game 2. Freshman Billy Keegan added a pinch-hit grand slam as part of a seven-run, fifth inning in Game 2. Three of Keegan’s four hits have gone for extra-base hits.

Freshman Cody Powers (Mechanicsville, Va.) had a two-hit game in Game 2 with a three-run double in the fifth.

PHCC belted out 20 hits over both games Sunday as six went for extra bases. Jagoda said the team made the adjustment from the first two games by jumping on early pitches and taking advantage of good hitter’s counts.

The Patriots (8-9) continue their 10-game homestand Mar. 9 with a pair of 9-inning games against Guilford Tech and Rockingham Community College.

Filed under: Baseball

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