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Patriots split with Monroe

The second round of the AISA Class 3A state playoffs did not go as smoothly for the Pike Liberal Arts Patriots as the first round.

The No. 3 Patriots (19-5) breezed past Morgan Academy in the first round last weekend, but the Patriots split the first two games of the second round with No. 5 Monroe Academy (26-8) Wednesday night in Monroeville.

Will Starling took the loss on the mound in a 12-2 game in game one, but Logan Stewart pitched a complete game for Pike in an 18-10 victory in game two.

“Everything just seemed to get worse as the game wore on in game one,” PLAS head coach Butch Austin said. “The team was down, I was down and the entire coaching staff was down, but for them to come back like they did tonight shows they weren’t ready to quit and go home.”

Austin said he was proud to see the leadership he saw in game two.

“I heard some good things out of Trey Walters,” Austin said. “He showed some real leadership today.”

The Patriots gave Starling a 1-0 lead in the second inning of game one when Justin McLaughlin doubled and scored on a single from Stewart. But Monroe tacked on eight runs in the bottom of the inning and added two more runs in the fourth inning for a 10-1 lead.

Blake Thomas doubled to open the fifth for the Patriots and Starling drove him home with a single, but the Volunteers scored two in the bottom of the sixth to end the game by mercy rule.

The Volunteers took a 1-0 lead in the first inning of game two, but Pike struck back by scoring three runs in the third inning and six in the fourth before Monroe cut the lead to 9-3.

The Patriots scored three runs in the fifth inning and six in the seventh to take an 18-3 lead.

Monroe made one last effort at the lead by scoring seven runs in the bottom of the seventh, but Stewart finally shut the door for the 18-10 win.

Stewart had four strikeouts in the game and allowed only three runs on two hits before the final inning when he allowed seven runs on five hits.

Ross Hixon went 3-for-4 at the plate with a double, two runs scored and five RBIs. Stewart was 3-for-5 with a double, four runs scored and two RBIs.

Nick McLaughlin went 2-for-4 with a two-run home run and four runs scored. Justin McLaughlin was 2-for-5 with one run scored and two RBIs.

Sam Carroll and Bradley Floyd each had one run scored and one RBI. Walters had on run scored and Alex Adams was 1-for-1 with a double and one run scored.

The winner of today’s game will advance to the championship series to be played May 6-7 in Montgomery.

Game time is set for 4:30 p.m. in Monroeville today.