Baseball NEWS

PHCC wins pair against Guilford Tech

April 28, 2014

It was a sensational Saturday at Hooker Field for the sophomores of Patrick Henry Community College’s baseball team.1920065_738518716179750_372531606_n

Playing in their final home games as Patriots, a slew of second-year players made impacts in a doubleheader sweep of Region X Division I opponent the Guilford Tech Titans. PHCC won Game 1, 7-1, and then rallied to win Game 2, 4-3.

First-year head coach Lucas Jones said it was a gratifying day for his sophomores.

“It’s a good group of sophomores and they’ve been doing that for us all year for the most part,” he said. “It took some time for them to adjust and become leaders from the fall into the spring. The majority of them see important innings, important action, important at bats, and you can’t look at a sophomore outside of maybe one or two that hasn’t seen their role as an important one, as far as in-game situations.

“I think some of those lower moments a couple weeks ago have helped us experience some confidence, as funny as that sounds, with the amount of one-run games we’ve played. We’ve experienced what it’s like to win some and lose some and what it takes in the back third of a game to be able to win them,” he added.

Sophomore Levi Pruitt earned his fifth win of the season in Game 2 and remained unbeaten this spring, throwing six innings with four hits, three runs — one earned — no walks and three strikeouts. After giving up all three runs in the fourth inning, he retired the side in order over the next two innings before being relieved by sophomore closer Alex Brown.

Pruitt said afterward he was hoping to throw a complete game because his pitch count is low.

“I attacked the strike zone and got a lot of groundball and flyball outs,” said Pruitt, who recorded 14 of his 18 outs in that fashion. “I was hoping for the chance at (the complete game) after getting hitters out early and keeping a pretty good pitch count. I had faith, though, in Alex (Brown). He’s our No. 1 guy out of the bullpen.”

Pruitt faced 24 batters, and he started 17 of them with first-pitch strikes. He retired 11 batters in two pitches or fewer and of the 66 pitches he finished with, 49 were for strikes. Brown then set Guilford Tech down 1-2-3 in the seventh inning on 12 pitches.

Meanwhile, the Patriots’ (32-13) offense chipped its way back into the lead with single runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings after falling behind 3-1. An RBI groundout by freshman Nic Keister and a leadoff home run in the fifth by sophomore Ed Lozano tied the game at 3.

Sophomore third baseman Justin Kime — whose error aided the Titans’ three-run, fourth inning — delivered the winning run with a two-out single to left which scored Cory Lewis.

“Everything fell into place perfect to give me that opportunity,” Kime said. “I got a good pitch to hit and just barreled it up. It’s always good to get big hits, especially when it’s a tie game.”

Lewis started the inning with an eight-pitch at bat that resulted in a single to center field. A successful sacrifice bunt by Patrick Love that moved Lewis into scoring position was the kind of fundamental baseball Jones said he was looking for in that situation. It eventually helped produce the winning RBI.

“There was some clutch hitting and execution (in the sixth) that we constantly talk about. Cory’s at bat there, fouling off some pitches was good, then moving the runner over and getting that two-out hit was big. Two-out hits from a run scoring standpoint are what win you a lot of games.”

PHCC scored 13 runs with two outs in the third inning of a 21-3 win over Louisburg on Wednesday, and scored all five runs in the third inning of Game 1 Saturday with two-outs as well. That helped overshadow the fact that the Patriots left eight runners on base in the second game — going 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

The Patriots end their four-game series with Guilford Tech at 1 p.m. today with a doubleheader in Jamestown, N.C.

“We have been home quite a bit recently with how the schedule just worked out with some rainouts, and we’ve enjoyed the success we’ve had on this field,” Jones said. “I think the guys though are excited to get back on the road, which is a huge test. They’re excited to meet the challenge of continuing this streak on the road.”

Behind a five-run third inning, the PHCC baseball team won Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader against Guilford Tech 7-1 at Hooker Field.

Bassett High School graduate Will Hylton had a bases-clearing double to highlight the inning. He finished 3-for-4 and added two runs scored.

Patrick County graduate and starting pitcher Tyler Belcher was hit in the leg on a line drive back at him in the second inning and did not return to the game.

Jake Watkins came on to throw 72?3 innings of scoreless relief, striking out six and walking one while scattering six hits.

“It’s hard to lose your normal first game starter in the second inning, and it’s even harder for the guy coming into that situation, whoever it is,” Jones said. “Jake has had some ups and downs this year, but has always been a strikeout and inning-eating guy with good stuff. The last three or four appearances after working with coach (Casey) Hodges gave us confidence that he could get it done.”

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