• 73°

Patriots prepare for rematch with Knights

Of the three losses the Pike Liberal Arts baseball team suffered this season, two of them came against teams from Georgia.

The last one, however, came at the hands of a Alabama team and a AAA Region 1 foe.

Back on March 27, the Patriots made a trip up to Macon-East for a game against the Knights.

It was that night PLAS returned to Pike County with an 8-6 loss, which as it turned out, was the last time the team would taste defeat.

Now, the two teams will meet again in the semi-finals of the AISA state baseball tournament with the winner advancing to the championship round.

Even though the loss took place almost a month again, it is still something the Patriots think about.

“Yea, it’s something we think about,” Trey Walters said. “But I think it’s going to make us bring a better approach (to the game).

“We know we didn’t play our best game (back in March), so we are going to come into this series focused.”

The senior said while he and the rest of his teammates want to exact a little pay back to Macon-East, there are bigger things at stake.

“We want some pay back, sure,” Walters said.

“But what we really want is to be playing a week from now (in the championship series). And it’s going to take our ‘A’ game to do that.”

Both teams enter the playoff matchup after sweeps in the first round of the tournament.

PLAS swept past Clarke Prep, while Macon-East took out Tuscaloosa in two games as well.

There is one difference however from this series to the last time the two teams met – Macon-East will be traveling to Butch Austin Field.

“They are honestly one of the best teams left in the tournament, and we know this,” Ross Hixon said.

“Playing at home is going to be a big help,” Hixon said.

“We haven’t lost a game here this season, and we are all comfortable here.

“As long as we keep doing what we have been doing all season long, we will be fine,” he added.

Like Hixon, PLAS head coach Butch Austin knows the task at hand for his team.

“They are tough,” Austin said of the Knights. “They are playing the best of anyone in the state right now.”

One of the areas Macon-East has been able to excel in this season is its ability to hit the ball, and that is also something that worries the Patriots’ skipper.

“They have a lot of good things going for them right now,” Austin said.

“They hit the ball really well – they have about five hitters who are as good as you’ll see.”

PLAS hopes it has the answer to the Knights’ hitting with the its pitching.

“Our pitchers are going to have hit their spots on Wednesday,” the coach said.

On the mound for the Patriots is Will Starling, who finished the regular season with a 7-0 record.

“We have rested Will for a game like this,” Austin said. “And I think he is ready for it.”

“When these two teams meet it’s also a battle and that’s what we are expecting.”

The Patriots and the Knights will play ball at 4 p.m. today at PLAS.