PLAS uses homers, pitching to down Abbeville Christian

Published 11:01 pm Thursday, March 14, 2013

Dustin Newman delivers a pitch for Pike Liberal Arts on Thursday. The Patriots are hosting the Jonah McWaters Tournament this weekend. (Photo/Ryan McCollough)

Dustin Newman delivers a pitch for Pike Liberal Arts on Thursday. The Patriots are hosting the Jonah McWaters Tournament this weekend. (Photo/Ryan McCollough)


Pike Liberal Arts broke out the big sticks in a 6-2 over Abbeville Christian on Thursday afternoon in the opening round of the Jonah McWaters Tournament in Troy.

The Patriots (14-3) scored five runs in the third inning, and one in the fourth to down the Generals in a time shortened game.

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“We really didn’t play that well in my opinion,” said Pike Liberal head coach Butch Austin. “We seem to play down to our competition at times, and if you do that too much, you will get beat.”

Pike hit the ball hard in the first two innings, but every line drive seemed to find an Abbeville Christian glove. That all changed in the bottom of the third.

After a lead-off walk by first baseman Michael Carroll, Chandler Avant delivered a laser home run to left center field on the first pitch of the at bat, to give the Patriots the first lead of the game.

Just three batters later, Robert Benton touched them all, with a towering fly ball that cleared the “Blue Monster” in left field.

Pike would never relinquish the lead, as pitchers Connor Vowell and Dustin Newman combined to handcuff the Generals to just three hits, while striking out 12 Abbeville Christian batters.

“Newman came in and pitched pretty well,” said Austin. “Connor worked good early, but struggled some late. We are fortunate enough to have some guys that can come in and throw it. We are pretty deep on the mound this season.”

Benton went 1-2 at the plate with three RBIs, and Avant went 2-4 with two runs batted in.

The other Pike Liberal run came on a sacrifice deep to center field of the bat of Taytom Barnes in the fourth inning.

Vowell picked up the win, going three innings, striking out seven batters, and giving up just one hit.

Newman got the save.

The win kicked off the Jonah McWaters tournament for the host-team Patriots. The tournament features nine teams from across the state of Alabama.

One weekend ago, the Patriots took part in the Border Wars Tournament in Columbus, Ga., hosted by Glenwood. Pike will travel to Tuscaloosa Academy next weekend, March 21-23, to take part in another tournament.

The hectic schedule has Austin thinking that his team needs a rest.

“We are tired,” said Austin. “There is no doubt about that. But we have to keep playing. The rain early on got the everything backed up. We need a break , but we wont get it until after next weekend.”

Pike Liberal plays Ashford Academy Friday.

First pitch is set for 1 p.m.

The win for Pike was the fourteenth of the young season. The Patriots have won at least 28 games for three straight seasons, and have been to the AISA State Championship Series multiple times recently.