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Patriots force tiebreaker for state championship

The Pike Liberal Arts Patriots handed Morgan Academy its first loss of the season in game two of the AISA State championship to force a third and deciding game on Thursday afternoon.

Following their 13-1 loss to the Senators in game one, the Patriots overcame an early four-run deficit to win game two 7-6.

“We know who we are up against here,” said Patriot head coach Allen Ponder. “They have a baseball team that has a potential first rounder and four division-I guys. The first game we made some mistakes, we kicked the ball around a little bit and in game two we minimized that damage and we were able to put the pressure on them and win the game.”

Holt Steed allowed four early runs in the first three innings, but pitched into the seventh inning, securing the win for the Patriots in game two.

“Holt has battled for us all year long,” Ponder said. “Holt pounds the zone and doesn’t walk guys. I am very proud of him and for the kids.”

Down 4-0 heading into the bottom of the third inning, the Patriots cracked the scoreboard on the heels of three consecutive singles, including back-to-back bunt singles by Trevor Barron and Scott-Taylor Renfroe. Cody Hollis hit a sacrifice fly to give the Patriots their first run of the game.

Levi Sikes hit an RBI single in the fourth and Chandler Golden hit an RBI double in the fifth to pull the Patriots to within one at 4-3 after five innings.

The Patriots broke through in the sixth inning to claim their first lead of the series. They sent eight batters to the plate and tallied three hits. Max Copeland singled to begin the inning and scored the tying run on a wild pitch. The Patriots took the lead on an error by Morgan shortstop David Ducote. The Patriots extended their lead with an RBI triple by Jade Sikes and Carter reached on error, bringing the score to 7-4 heading into the bottom of the sixth.

The Senators scored two runs in the seventh and put the tying run on first base with two outs, forcing Ponder to put Chandler Golden into the game. The senior struck out Matthew Davis to end the threat and the game.

Copeland ended the game 2-3 with 2 RBI.

It took the potent Morgan Academy Senator lineup less than three innings to knockoff the defending state champion Patriots 13-1 in game one.

The Senators racked up nine hits in less than three innings of play.

They highly touted Auburn signees‑David Ducote, Gunnar Henderson and Brayton Brown finished the first game a combined 3-7 with 3 RBI.

Henderson finished 2-3 with two RBI for the Senators.

Jade Sikes got the start on the mound for the Patriots in game one. The senior, in his final appearance on the mound for the Patriots, completed two innings and allowed eight runs.

The Patriots lone run came in the opening inning. Cody Hollis led off the game with a single to left field and came around to score on errors by the Senator catcher and center fielder.

The Senators sent nine men to the plate in both the first and second inning in game one. In the bottom of the first inning, the Senators scored three runs on just two hits. Henderson singled and came around to score the first run on a wild pitch. Matthew Davis walked with the bases loaded and Dione Allen drove in the final run of the inning on a single to center to bring the score to 3-1.

Game three will begin on Thursday beginning at 11 a.m.