The home stretch

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 15, 2010

With one game remaining in the regular season, and the AAA Region 1 championship already wrapped up, the Pike Liberal Arts baseball team was looking to get some fine-tuning done for the playoffs during its game against Abbeville Christian Academy on Thursday.

However, the game turned into something more than the Patriots were expected.

Even though PLAS would go on to a 4-1 win, the team had to fight for every run as Generals’ pitcher, Dylan Wilson, had a no-hitter going through the first two innings.

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Ross Hixon led the bottom of the third inning off with a blast to centerfield that got him to third base.

Two batters later, Nick McLaughlin would drive in Hixon with a double to give the Patriots a 1-0 lead.

However, in the next half inning, the Generals would answer back with a run of their own of PLAS starter Justin McLaughlin to knot the game up at one.

The score would remain the same until the bottom of the fifth when Nick McLaughlin once again broke the tie with a RBI base hit, driving in Will Starling, who hit a double in the at bat before.

“A win is a win,” head coach Butch Austin said with a smile after the game.

“We played flat today. (Abbeville Christian) has a good ball club – it looked like the game was more important to them than us.”

Justin McLaughlin went four innings, giving up one run on four hits, while striking out two.

Lawson Stewart replaced McLaughlin and got the win, pitching two and one third innings, striking out five while allowing two hits and three walks.

Hixon got the save after replacing Stewart who had walked the bases loaded in the top of the seventh inning.

“I think all our pitchers threw the ball well (Thursday),” the coach said.

“Lawson started off strong but couldn’t close it. He is young and he will learn how to close games – he is going to be a good pitcher someday.

“We wanted to throw three pitchers out there (on Thursday),” Austin added. “And we will probably do the same on Friday with Sam probably getting the start.”

Offensively, PLAS was only able to get seven hits.

Nick McLaughlin finished 2-4 with a double, a stolen base and two RBIs, while Starling and Logan Stewart each chipped in the other two RBIs.

Hixon also finished the game 2-4 with a triple and a run scored.

Now, the Patriots will look to its regular season finale against Fort Dale, today at Butch Austin Field.

“Fort Dale is a rival,” Nick McLaughlin said. “We never want to lose to them, especially at the end of the season when we haven’t lost a game at home once this year. We are going to come out here focused and ready to play.”