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Offense surges in taking pair vs. Guilford Tech, Rockingham CC

March 9, 2016

MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) baseball coach Frank Jagoda considers a big offensive inning as one that features three or more runs.

The Patriots offense provided a slew of those innings Wednesday during a set of games against Guilford Tech and Rockingham Community College at Hooker Field. PHCC scored 37 runs on 35 hits over the two games, helping shorten each scheduled 9-inning affair with wins of 18-3 and 19-6.

Jagoda said his team put together numerous quality at bats from the start and did a good job of barreling up several pitches over the course of 13 innings. The Patriots had seven innings of three or more runs and scored in every inning but the third of Game 1 against Guilford Tech. The seven spot posted in the second inning against the Titans was the largest output of the day.

“We’ve been talking about not having zeros on the offensive side of the scoreboard. Obviously you’re not going to score in 12 of 13 innings all the time, but when we did score, we scored in bunches,” Jagoda said of the offensive display. “It’s just about putting together quality at bats, stringing some things together and taking bases when you can.”

The Wednesday sweep made it four straight wins for PHCC and moved them above .500 (10-9) for the first time this season.

A number of Patriot hitters had big days, but none more so than freshman Brandon Nania. The infielder hit a pair of home runs in the first game, including a grand slam in that seven-run inning. He finished the day 7-for-9 with six runs and nine RBI. However, he was only one of two hitters to have multi-hit games in each as sophomore Ryan Coale went 5-for-9 with three runs scored and three RBI.

In all, 13 hits went for extra bases as the Patriots accumulated 10 doubles on the day. Nania said he’s been waiting for the offense to have a breakout performance.

“I’m seeing the ball really well right now, and that weekend (vs. Spartanburg Methodist) I wasn’t letting the ball travel and I was a little antsy,” Nania said. “Finally, I’ve started an approach where I’m thinking back side more and letting the ball get deeper on me and that’s helping me clear the baseball.

“Starting off last weekend with a series win was big because we haven’t had that all season long. I think everything is coming along right now and people are starting to put good at bats together and scoring runs,” he added.

Franklin County High School graduate and PHCC freshman Jared Bridges made his first collegiate start against Division I Guilford Tech, earning his first win in the process. Bridges went six innings, allowing two earned runs and five hits while striking out three and walking none. He threw 47 of his 66 pitches for strikes. The only time he ran into trouble was when he gave up three straight hits and two runs in the fourth inning.

“I think Jared (Bridges) did an outstanding job for his first career start against a Division I JUCO school,” Jagoda said. “We got his pitch count to where we want it to be because this is going to be the role we see him in. We have a lot of mid-week games to come and he did a good job competing, but more importantly, commanded the (strike) zone.”

PHCC was only threatened once over the two games, seeing an eight-run lead reduced to four at 10-6 in the fifth inning against Rockingham. Freshman Rhett Miller battled through a tough inning, allowing four runs but all four were unearned. The Patriots responded with four of their own in the bottom half of the inning before tacking on five more in the sixth to put the mercy rule into effect.

“As a coach it’s a good feeling when you can put different guys in different spots and see them produce. It’s an early part of the year still and we haven’t accomplished too much yet and still have a lot of work to do,” Jagoda said.

The Patriots conclude their 10-game homestand Friday and Saturday with a four-game, doubleheader series against Jagoda’s alma mater of Jamestown Community College. The first game Friday starts at 3 p.m. with Saturday’s start time set for 11 a.m.

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