Takin’ care of business

Published 10:51 pm Friday, March 12, 2010

The last time the Patriots of Pike Liberal Arts was on the field was Monday, defeated Autauga 15-4.

In its home opener Friday night, the Patriots’ bats stayed hot as the team continued its offensive rampage, defeated South Montgomery County Academy 15-0 in five innings.

The win improved PLAS to 11-2 on the season, but besides the firepower at the plate, the Patriots’ faithful had another reason to cheer.

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Senior Justin McLaughlin took the mound for the first time this season and was untouchable.

McLaughlin (1-0) threw three innings, struck out seven, hit one batter and did not allow a hit.

“I was definitely a little nervous at first – no question about it,” he said. “But after the second batter I really got settled in.”

Out of the 34 pitches McLaughlin threw, 26 were strikes.

“I felt pretty good out there,” he said. “My fastball was up a little bit, but other than that everything felt fine.”

The senior’s coach, Butch Austin said he was very impressed with what he saw out of his starter.

“I thought he threw well. We had him on a pitch count, but 30 is right where we wanted him to be,” the coach said.

McLaughlin and the rest of his teammates did just as well at the plate.

The Patriots out hit Raiders 14-1 and scored seven runs in the bottom of the fourth to put themselves ahead by double-digits.

Blake Floyd finished 3-3 with an RBI double and a three-run home run.

Ross Hixon finished 2-3, with a double and a two-run home run, while Will Starling finished 2-2 with two RBIs.

McLaughlin also helped his own cause, finishing with two RBIs.

“I was kind of afraid coming in,” Austin said.

“We hadn’t played all week and I was worried out bats may have cooled off a little bit, but fortunately they hadn’t.”

Lawson Stewart and Chandler Avant would replace McLaughlin on the mound.

South Montgomery’s lone hit came off of Stewart in the top of the fourth, while Avant struck out the side to the game in the top of the fifth.

After the game, Austin said it was important for the team to get of to a strong start to the tournament.

“We are hitting the ball really well right now – we are playing really good baseball right now.

“Hopefully, that is something we can keep going throughout the weekend,” he added.

The Patriots will be back in action at Butch Austin Field today at noon as it plays host to Crenshaw County.