Patriots earn title berth after win over the Knights

Published 8:00 pm Thursday, May 3, 2018

The Pike Liberal Arts Patriots are heading back to the AISA State Championship for the second year in a row after they knocked off Tuscaloosa 6-0 in the third and deciding game of the semifinals.

The Patriots will match up once again with defending champion Glenwood next Wednesday morning.

“It’s very exciting,” said head coach Allen Ponder. “I am excited for these kids. I think they have worked extremely hard all season. I think they deserve the opportunity to go back. I think it’s going to be a big advantage having been last year. We have some veterans that have been in that atmosphere.”

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Game two went deep into Wednesday night and, thanks to strong pitching by Jade Sikes and Drew Nelson, the Patriots were able to secure a game three. Nelson was back at it again on Thursday when he pitched six shutout innings. He allowed just two hits and struck out seven batters.

Nathan Renfroe came in and shut down the Knights in the seventh sending the Patriots back to Montgomery.

“Our pitching staff did great this week,” Ponder said. “If you look at Reed Jinright, he wasn’t himself but he still threw the ball well. You have Jade and Drew who came in and gave us shut-down type stuff.  They were able to throw two pitches for strikes and dominate the strike zone.”

The Patriots finished with 10 hits in the win. Trevor Barron and Cody Hollis both finished with two hits to lead the Patriots. Max Copeland, Renfroe, Reed Jinright, Davis Allen, Wood Jinright and Cole McWhorter also picked up a hit.

After two scoreless frames, the Patriots got on the board in the third inning. Renfroe drove in the first run of the game when he walked with the bases loaded. Allen came around to score on a wild pitch to double the Patriots lead at 2-0.

One inning later, the Patriots increased their lead to 3-0 when Cody Hollis reach on an error that allowed Max Copeland to touch home.

The Patriots were beneficiaries of another error in the sixth inning. Nelson dropped down a bunt that the Knights pitcher couldn’t control, allowing Barron to score Pike’s fourth run.

Later in the inning, Hollis singled to center to put the Patriots up 5-0.

With the game still in the balance heading into the seventh, the Patriots picked up an insurance run on a Barron to put the Patriots up 6-0.

Game one between Pike and Glenwood is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Wednesday.

“Nothing really changes,” Ponder said. “Practice is just repetitive right now. Glenwood has a very good, quality baseball team. They do some things differently than what we are used to. We will have a couple off good days of work where we will take a look at a few things.”