Patriots, Gators split first two games of championship series

Published 6:57 pm Wednesday, May 10, 2017

MONTGOMERY – With runners on second and third in the seventh, Hunter Jones strolled to the plate with the opportunity to give the Patriots their first state title since 2012.

But the senior struck out looking, and Pike Lib lost 2-1 to Glenwood, forcing a third game today in the AISA Class 3A State Championship series. The Patriots won the first game 6-3.

“Glenwood has a good baseball team,” said Patriots head coach Allen Ponder. “We understood from the get go that if you give them opportunities they are going to take advantage of them. That was the difference: in the first game we took advantage and in the second game they took advantage. We just couldn’t get it done in the second game, but I am very proud of how we played today.”

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Reece Burbage and Reed Jinright combined to throw 12 innings and allowed a total of five runs.

“They have done it all year,” Ponder said. “Those have been the guys that have carried us in our region series. They have done a good job at going deep in games, and they did that today.”

Jones led the Patriots at the plate. He reached base in all but one of his plate appearances, including going three for three in game one.

“I got on base pretty much every time, other than the last time, so none of that matters,” Jones said. “Thankfully we have a game three (today) and we will take care of business.”

Burbage pitched six innings in game one and allowed three runs, two of which were earned, on six hits.

The Patriots finished with nine hits led by Jones with three. Cody Hollis, Tyler Hussey, Cole McWhorter, Jade Sikes, Trevor Barron and Tristan Carter all had one hit.

Jinright ran into a bit of trouble in the first inning when he walked four batters in a row, but a pick off of the runner at first base, helped Burbage get out of the inning.

The game stayed scoreless until the third inning when the Patriots got on the board when Jones singled in Barron.

The Gators evened the score in the fifth inning. Carson Allison reached on a one-out single and advanced to second on a wild pitch. He came around to score on a single by Nick Adams.

The Gators took their only lead of the game in the sixth when Jalen Williams scored on a wild pitch to bring the score to 2-1.

The Patriots sent nine batters to the plate in the sixth inning and walked away with a four-run lead.

McWhorter evened the score at two when he singled in Jones. Sikes had the big hit in the inning when he singled in both Hussey and Cason Murphree to give the Patriots a 4- lead. Barron grounded out to score Wood Jinright, Carter singled in Sikes and by inning’s end the Patriots held a 6-2 lead.

The Gators had their first two batters reach in the seventh, forcing Ponder to bring in Jones to pitch. Jones forced the Gators into a double play and held them to one run on passed ball, but the Patriots held on for the win.

Reed Jinright lasted six innings on the mound in game two and allowed two runs on four hits and two walks.

Jones went 1-3 at the plate with a walk, while Reed Jinright, Sikes and Tristan Carter each had one.

After three scoreless innings, the Patriots were beneficiaries of two Gator errors to score the game’s first run. With two outs, Wood Jinright struck out but advanced to second base on a dropped third strike by the Gator catcher after he threw into the runner at first base. Jinright came around to score when Sikes reached first on an error by the second baseman to give Pike the 1-0 lead.

The Patriots’ defense was on display in the fourth inning when Hollis and Sikes both made diving catches to help Jinright pick up his first 1-2-3 of the game.

With their remaining outs dwindling away, the Gators battled back and took a one-run lead in the fifth after Josh Brown doubled and came around to score on a wild pitch and Adams singled in Mosley.

Following a Sikes walk and a fly out by Barron, Carter hit a double to right field to put the potential winning run on second with one out. Hollis went down swinging and Jones strolled to the plate looking to be a hero. He went down looking to end the game.

“If you put me in that situation 15 times, I would want him up there every time,” Ponder said. “That is who I want with the bat and he wants the bat in his hands.”

The first pitch between the Patriots and Gators is scheduled for 11 a.m. at Patterson Field in Montgomery

“We are excited for the opportunity,” Ponder said. “For us to play well in the first game giving us this our opportunity, I think they are very excited.”