No doubt about it
The last time the Pike Liberal Arts baseball team took the field was a week ago on Friday as it played host to Fort Dale.
In that game, the Patriots won 19-4.
A week later, the PLAS bats were still hot.
In the first round of the AISA baseball state playoffs, the Patriots’ welcomed Clarke Prep to town and before the Gators knew it, it was time to leave.
PLAS swept its way into the second round thanks to a 22-2 win in the first game and an 8-0 win in the second.
Neither game lasted a full seven innings, as the first game ended in the fifth and the second game was called after an inning and a half, thanks to inclement weather.
“Always good to take care of the first game of a series,” head coach Butch Austin said.
“You want to play hard, hit the ball well and pitch well, and we did all of those things.”
“I’m pleased everyone got to play and contribute (to the win),” the coach said. “Everyone played well too.”
PLAS would get to Clarke Prep starter JoJo Hogan in a hurry in game one.
The Patriots batted around the lineup twice in the first inning, sending 18 batters to the plate, and scoring 13 runs in the process.
Every PLAS batter reached base and came around to score as well in the inning.
After a Nick McLaughlin sacrifice fly brought home Ross Hixon, Justin McLaughlin brought Trey Walters and Will Starling, both of whom walked, with a three-run home run to give the Patriots a 4-0 lead.
After a Sam Carroll pop out, Logan Stewart and Blake Floyd both walked, Lawson Stewart came to the plate and drove both home with a two-out double.
That double was the first of four consecutive doubles, Hixon, Walters and Starling all had RBI doubles.
PLAS would score nine runs with two outs in the inning, off of eight hits, six of which were doubles.
After the Gators got two runs back in the to of the third, the Patriots answered, scoring nine runs in the bottom of the inning, to improve its lead to 22-2.
Both Nick McLaughlin and Sam Carroll hit home runs in the inning.
Hixon, Walters, and Starling all finished 1-2 with two runs scored and RBI doubles.
The McLaughlin brothers combined for two home runs, 5 RBIs, three runs scored and three walks.
Carroll and Lawson Stewart both finished 2-3 at the plate, with Carroll adding four RBIs and Stewart adding three.
“We are all feeling pretty good right now,” Hixon said after the second game.
“I think scoring 22 runs in a game is making a statement, no matter who you are playing.”
“We knew they weren’t the best team – but we didn’t come out flat, we took care of business.
“Everyone did their part (on Friday). If they didn’t get a hit, they walked,” the senior added. “It was a good couple of games.”
Overshadowed by the offensive outburst was a solid day for PLAS pitchers.
Logan Stewart started the game on the mound, pitching the first two innings, striking out four while not surrendering a base hit.
Josh Starling replaced the senior, throwing the third and fourth innings, giving up two hits, two runs, one of which was unearned, while striking out three.
Chandler Avant pitched the final half inning, striking out the side to end the game.
“I was trying to get ahead of the batters and I think I was able to do a good job,” Logan Stewart said afterwards. “I was just trying to throw first pitch strikes – it was a good way to get the game started off.”
As game two got underway, while PLAS didn’t score any runs in the top of the first, the team made up for it with a big second inning, as eight Patriots came across the plate.
Hixon finished 1-2 with a triple and two RBIs, while Will Starling also went 1-2 adding two RBIs.
Carroll, Logan Stewart and Nick McLaughlin each had an RBI of their own as well.
Carroll also got the start for PLAS, pitching one inning and struck out two.
Besides the offense, Austin was pleased with what he saw from his pitching staff.
“I thought the pitching looked great,” Austin said.
“Everyone looked really good out there.
“It was a big relief to see Sam and Logan both get ahead in the count,” the coach added.
The Patriots will now prepare for the winner of the Macon-East/ Tuscaloosa series.
The next round will take place on Wednesday, April 28, at Butch Austin field.