Patriots blow out Volunteers

Published 10:49 pm Friday, April 1, 2011

Pike Liberal Arts School's Blake Floyd is congratulated after scoring during a baseball game against Monroe Academy in Troy, Ala., Friday, April 1, 2011. PLAS won 12-2. (Messenger Staff Photo/Thomas Graning)

It was a matchup two years in the making.

The last time both Pike Liberal Arts and Monroe Academy met on the diamond in a meaningful baseball game was back in 2009, in the state semi-finals.

There, a late inning collapse sealed the Patriots’ fate, as the Volunteers would take a come from behind win to the state championship game.

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And even though a lot of the PLAS players from that team have come and gone, the current team knew the importance of the double-header – and let Monroe know exactly how they felt almost immediately. The Patriots cruised past the Volunteers, sweeping the two games by the scores of 12-2 in five innings and 17-2 in four innings.

“That’s been building up for two years,” head coach Butch Austin said after the final game. “We owed them that one.”

“We are playing solid baseball. We are pitching, we are hitting, and we are playing good defense – you’re supposed to win when you do that.”

The victories keep PLAS perfect in the region, as the team improved to 7-0, while Monroe falls to 6-3.

“These wins put us in the driver’s seat right now in the region,” Austin said.

“But we still have a long, long ways to go. We wanted to win these games, but there are still some big ones coming up.”

In game one, PLAS struck first thanks to a two-out double from Lawson Stewart that scored both Nick McLaughlin and Sam Carroll.

It was just two innings later that the Patriot would open the floodgates, and blow the game wide open. In the third inning, the home team sent 12 batters to the plate, with 10 scoring. There were seven hits, four of which were back-to-back-to-back-to-back RBI doubles, by Josh Starling, Evan Strother, Chandler Avant and Blake Floyd.

“Everyone is doing what they can to get hits,” Avant said.

“I think this game gave us a lot of confidence. We came out here ready to play – ready to give it our all.”

Stewart would cap the inning off with a two-run home run to give the Patriots a 12-0 lead.

That would be all Carroll would need on the mound, as the senior dominated the Volunteer lineup, pitching a complete game, while striking out eight.

The senior right-hander did not allow a base runner until a fourth inning walk, and did not allow a base hit until the final inning.

“I thought I pitched pretty well until that last inning,” Carroll said. “It was very important for us to set the tone of the series in the first game.”

That tone was set, and it carried over into the next game. Right out of the gate, the Patriots imposed its will on the Volunteers, scoring 10 runs in the first inning.

In that inning, 14 batters went to the plate, with six reaching on base, and three reaching on errors.

Both Floyd and McLaughlin hit back-to-back home runs in the inning as well.

But PLAS was not done.

In the second inning, again the Patriots batted around the lineup, sending 10 men to the plate, with three of them scoring.

For the second time in the game, Floyd hit a homer and Robert Benton added to the score with a long ball of his own, to make it 15-0.

As it turned out, Floyd was helping his own cause, as he was on the mound of the Patriots in game two.

Like Carroll before him, the junior pitched a complete game, giving up four hits, one earned run and struck out three.

“We knew we had to have these two games,” Floyd said. “I believed in us the whole time. We just kept thinking about two years ago, the team talked about it over and over again in the dugout. We wanted this one bad – and we got it.”