Patriots claim tournament title

Published 10:54 pm Saturday, March 17, 2012

Despite bring ahead by five runs going into the final inning of the semifinal game of the Jonah McWater Invitational tournament against Tuscaloosa Academy, the Pike Liberal Arts School Patriots found themselves in a tough situation in the seventh after the arrival of Chandler Avant on the pitcher’s mound to close the game.

Up 6-1 with one out, Avant came in to replace Taytom Barnes on the mound as the Knights were preparing to stage a final push to stay in the game.

With two on base the Knights managed a double, which allowed two runners to come in and make it a much less comfortable 6-3 game.

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A walked batter later and the bases were loaded, leading to the biggest offensive opportunity the Knights had seen all night.

Two singles allowed two more RBIs, putting the Knights within one run at 6-5 and threatening an early close for the Patriots.

With the situation looking dire Avant managed to find his mark, striking out two batters back to back and ending the game with a Patriot win.

Leading up to the crucial seventh inning the Patriots looked more like themselves, keeping the Knights off the scoreboard up until the sixth inning and chipping away on offense.

Nick McLaughlin struck first with a single that brought in a run in the first, followed by a long shot by Dustin Newman that allowed another man to cross the plate.

The Patriots took an opportunity to show off their bunting skills as well, most notably on a bunt by Lawson Stewart that resulted in a double and an RBI after an error on behalf of the Knights.

The win allowed the patriots to advance to the championship game, where they faced a rematch with Tuscaloosa Academy, bringing in another win 12-5.

The championship game saw an impressive showing from Barnes, who added six runs to the Patriots score thanks to two three run homers in the third and sixth inning.

But Barnes wasn’t the only one to send one out of the park, as Avant added a homer of his own to add two runs to the Patriots score.

Catcher Blake Floyd was also a dominating presence for the Patriot offense, and brought in three runs thanks to a single in the first inning and a double in the fifth.

Avant again closed out the game on the pitcher’s mound, allowing only three hits and one earned run along with two strike outs to end the game and bring in the win.

Avant saw action on the mound along with Dustin Newman and Dalton Harris, neither of which managed any strikeouts but kept runs to a minimum.

The Patriots strong showing on the weekend carried over to the All-Tournament Team selection, which featured three Patriot players in Lawson Stewart, Blake Floyd and Taytom Barnes, who was named MVP.

Barnes was 6-12 at bat for the weekend with three home runs and 13 RBIs.

The Patriots will be back in action on Monday, March 19, when they play Crenshaw Christian Academy on the road.

The game is set to begin at 3:30 p.m.