Area champs

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 10, 2003

The Pike County baseball team knew it had a state playoff berth wrapped up before Thursday's game.

The Bulldogs (9-8) are in a two-team area, and since the top two teams in each area make the playoffs, Pike County clinched a spot very early in the season.

Despite that, Pike County had plenty of reason to play hard during Thursday's matchup against area foe Barbour County. A win meant the Bulldogs would play the first round of the state playoffs at home April 23 rather than travel to Jefferson County for the opening playoff game.

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Thursday's game against Barbour was not a close shave as Pike County rolled to a 17-2 win. The game only lasted three innings before Barbour County's coach conceded.

"I am glad we get to play at home in the playoffs," Bulldog head coach Fred Holland said. "This will be big for the kids."

Though the play was at times sloppy Thursday in the cold rain that covered Brundidge Thursday, Holland said he was pleased with his team's effort.

"We have been playing pretty good lately," Holland said. "We made some mistakes today, but that was because we played a lot of young guys.

"We always play a lot of young guys and we expect a lot out of them."

Pike County starting pitcher Chris Nickson struggled in the top of the first inning. In that half inning, he walked three batters and was called for a balk. Barbour County held its only lead at 1-0.

Pike County answered heavily in the bottom of the inning. Fourteen Bulldog batters went to the plate in the inning, leading to a 10-run burst.

Barbour County struggled to find control from the pitcher's mound. Bulldog batters received seven walks and brothers Elijah and Josh Daniel reached by being hit by the ball.

Josh Daniel was hit twice on the same plate appearance. The first time the umpire ruled he did not make enough effort to avoid the ball and the pitcher hit him in the back of the leg on the next pitch. He made the final out of the inning on a shot to the wall in left-center field when the umpire called him out for being outside the batter's box when he made contact with the ball.

Pike County scored seven more runs in the second inning and Nickson almost had a no-hitter. Barbour County teammates Marcus Lewis and Brian Person ended the no-hit bid with back-to-back extra base hits. Lewis hit a two-out double and scored on Person's RBI triple.

Despite all the runs the Bulldogs scored, Pike County only managed seven hits. Chris Bell hit two of them, finishing two-for-two with three runs scored. He also reached on a walk.

Elijah Daniel had the only extra-base hit for the Bulldogs, hitting a double in his second plate appearance of the first inning. He knocked in three runs on the play and advanced to third on an error by the centerfielder. Elijah Daniel finished two-for-two with five RBI and three runs scored.

Nickson went 0-for-0 from the plate, but was walked twice and hit once by a pitch. Anthony Kilpatrick led off the game for Pike County with a hit, but also drew a walk and reached on an error.

David Fiveash went one-for-one from the plate, hitting a single to right field that got by the rightfielder. He managed to get al the way around the bases on the play.