Patriots advance to second round

Published 7:49 am Monday, April 18, 2016

The Pike Patriots advanced to the second round of the AISA Class 3A playoffs with a 5-4 win over the Hooper Colts on Saturday.

“I am very proud of the kids today,” said Patriots head coach Allen Ponder. “Once again we squandered some opportunities, but the difference between yesterday and today was we found a way to win.”

The teams split Friday’s games. Game three proved to be a pitchers’ duel, with both teams held scoreless until the fourth inning. Justin Helms got the start for the Patriots, going five innings with two runs and six hits.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“He did a great job for us,” Ponder said. “He ran out of steam in the fifth which is fine. He gave us five great innings.”

A Hooper error put the Patriots on the board in the fourth, with Murphy Renfroe scoring both Hunter Jones and Wood Jinright.

The Colts threatened to even up the score in the fifth inning when they had the tying runs in scoring position, but Helps forced two fly outs to end the threat.

The Patriots added three runs on three hits in the fifth. Hayes Lee singled driving in Cason Murphree who pinch ran for Bailey Renfroe, while Reed Jinright reached on an error scoring Lee e. The Patriots took a 5-0 lead when a Jones single scored Jinright.

The Colts attempted a comeback starting in the sixth inning. The first two batters got on base and scored two runs on a double to cut the deficit to 5-2, prompting Ponder to bring Kiegan Simmons to pitch. Simmons hit his first batter and after falling behind 3-0 on the next better, Ponder saw enough and brought in Tyler Floyd with two runners on base. Floyd forced a fly out to center field and two groundouts to short to end the inning.

“Tyler is your prototypical reliever. He doesn’t let anything phase him,” Ponder said. “He understands as a reliever your going to win some or lose some, but he knows day in and day out you have the opportunity to be on the mound. He doesn’t let anything phase him and that worked to our advantage today.”

The Colts scored two runs on four hits in the seventh to bring the score to 5-4 with just one out and two runners on base. Floyd forced a pop out to Jones at shortstop that was called an infield fly, Jones dropped the ball and Hooper runner at first darted to second base. The Patriots tagged both runners as they stood on second base to end the game, sending the Patriots to the second round.

The Patriots travel to Bessemer on Thursday.

“It’s always exciting to move on in the playoffs,” Ponder said. “Up until the day we leave, we are going to hit and hit and hit and try to find some barrels again. We are going to celebrate this but tomorrow we are going to get back to work.”