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Patriots slide past Spartanburg Methodist with doubleheader sweep

April 7, 2016

MARTINSVILLE, Va. — There was a bit of retribution to be paid Wednesday (Apr. 6) for the Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) baseball team.

The Patriots capped a five-game homestand with five straight wins, completing a doubleheader sweep over NJCAA, Division I nationally ranked Spartanburg Methodist College with wins of 7-4 and 4-1. PHCC atoned for a four-game series loss in South Carolina on Feb. 27-28, avoiding a sweep to the Pioneers with a 10-4 win in the final game of that series over the last weekend of February.

“Anytime you play a good program such as SMC you want to show well. I don’t think our guys were very happy or satisfied with how we played as a team when we went down there in February,” Patriots coach Frank Jagoda said. “Our challenge was to even the score a little bit. It was important for the guys to face a good opponent on the mid week going into another important Region X series this weekend.”

Jagoda said his team did a good job of keeping both games simple by focusing on each pitch, out and inning. The offense used a six-run, fifth inning to win Game 1 before freshman mid-week starter, Jared Bridges (Rocky Mount, Va.), pitched the Patriots to the sweep in Game 2.

After working out of a jam in the second inning, Bridges posted five consecutive scoreless innings to earn his fourth win of the season in his first complete game of his collegiate career. Bridges allowed five hits, struck out four and walked three while hitting a batter over seven innings. The freshman lowered his ERA to 2.08 following the performance.

“I just tried to throw strikes and if I wasn’t I fixed my mechanics,” Bridges said. “The defense helped me out tremendously. It feels great to beat Spartanburg.”

PHCC pieced together three arms to win Game 1 as sophomore Kemper Terry (Collinsville, Va.) battled through four innings, allowing a run and one hit despite walking five. He had six strikeouts to help offset the free passes as Jagoda said the lefty buckled down in key spots during each inning. Sophomore Anthony Zona (Mechanicsville, Va.) held the lead after the offense posted the crooked number in the fifth before sophomore Robert Fitzwater (Suffolk, Va.) earned his first save of the season with a perfect seventh inning.

“You need a quality arm on the mid week and Jared has taken that role in stride, but I don’t look at it as having a No. 1, 2 or 3 weekend rotation and then a mid-week guy,” Jagoda said. “We look at it as our staff and Jared has assumed that mid-week role and he when he takes the ball he competes. (Today) we worked through both games as a staff and I thought Kemper (Terry) worked through some tough innings in the first game. He got some big outs and made some big pitches when he needed to and Parker (Brann) did the same thing.”

The offense remained hot, combining for 11 runs and 15 hits over the two games. The Patriots were solid in two-out situations again which yielded the big inning in Game 1. Sophomore Jonah McReynolds (Martinsville, Va.) triggered the Game 1 rally with a two-out double and later had a two-out triple in the first inning of Game 2 to help open up a 2-0 lead.

Only three of the 11 runs scored on the day came with less than two outs. The Patriots also eclipsed 300 runs scored for the season and is averaging 7.92 runs per game with a .323 team batting average.

Sophomore Ryan Coale (Lexington, Va.) hit his second home run in the last three games to plate the final run of the doubleheader, upping the team total to 27. Coale was 3-for-5 on the day to raise his average to.420 and was one of four Patriot hitters to have multi-hit games in either contest. Sophomore Aaron Nanney (Gastonia, N.C.) reached base in all four plate appearances in Game 2. Redshirt freshman Brandon Nania (Murrysville, Pa.) went 2-for-3 in Game 1 and drove in a pair.

“I think it’s a level confidence and competing with confidence and I think that helps you get over the hump. Our guys have assumed roles and have found a way to compete with confidence. Things that go unnoticed for example are Rashad (Stewart) flying out after a nine or 10 pitch at bat and then Jonah (McReynolds) coming up with a few key hits with two outs.”

The Patriots (25-13) get back to Region X action this weekend (Apr. 9-10) at Surry Community College in Dobson, N.C. PHCC can even up its road record at 10-10 with a three-game sweep.

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