Baseball NEWS

Patriots earn first Region X regular season title with doubleheader sweep

May 8, 2016

MARTINSVILLE, Va. — The Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) baseball team checked off one goal on its list Saturday (May 7).

The Patriots’ doubleheader sweep of Southeastern Community College locked up the program’s first ever regular season title and the No. 1 seed in next week’s Region X tournament. PHCC has now won 16 straight conference games following wins of 11-7 and 14-4, having not lost in Region X play since being swept in its conference series opener against Wake Tech, Mar. 25-26.

“These guys have some goals in mind and becoming regular season champions for the first time in school history was one of them,” Patriots coach Frank Jagoda said. “We still have a lot of goals in front of us and those opportunities will come in the near future… Winning a regular season championship is exciting but again it’s not the main goal.”

Strong first innings in both games staked the Patriots (39-14, 16-3) to early leads. The offense combined to score seven first-inning runs and of the 25 runs scored Saturday, 15 of them came over the first three innings. Jagoda said there was a better focus in practice leading up to this weekend’s final regular season series, and it showed with more quality at bats and a concerted effort of moving runners with situational baseball.

Brandon Nania (Murrysville, Pa.) went 5-for-8 on the day to headline a potent PHCC attack. Nania also scored five runs, doubled twice and drove in three. Rashad Stewart (Dinwiddie, Va.) hit his team-leading seventh home run of the season with a two-run shot in Game 1 that helped open up a 8-6 lead late. Ryan Coale (Lexington, Va.) hit a two-run homer in Game 2 — his 5th of the season — and was a perfect 3-for-3 in the second game, scoring twice and reaching base in all four plate appearances.

The Rams certainly didn’t make things easy despite digging themselves into early deficits in both games. They used the middle innings to close a 7-1 deficit to 8-6 in Game 1 and pulled to within four runs through 3 1/2 innings in Game 2. Jonah McReynolds’ (Martinsville, Va.) two-run double in the fourth of Game 2 delivered the big blow while Kemper Terry (Collinsville, Va.) pitched the Patriots to a Game 1 win by tossing five innings of one-run baseball in relief of starter Jack Maynard (Crozet, Va.).

The Liberty University bound lefty struck out five in his five innings of work, allowing all three of his hits in the ninth inning. He also induced a key 6-4-3 double play in the eighth inning. His performance over the back half of the game helped back Maynard who gave up the most runs in a home start this season.

“As the season’s progressed I’ve learned that I need to come in and pound the zone and throw strikes,” Terry said. “Everyone is going to have their bad days, and us as a team, we’ve been able to pick each other up. You have Miggy (Lopez), Robert (Fitzwater), and even Parker (Brann) that can come in when the starters don’t have their best day and pick them up.”

“We made some defensive plays behind Kemper which we didn’t do behind Jack and that’s the game of baseball,” Jagoda added. “If you make an error or two early on, you have to come back and make the next play. Kemper did a good job of commanding the strike zone and made the pitches when he needed to.”

The Patriots look to cap the series Sunday (May 8) with their sixth consecutive Region X series sweep.

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