Patriots rally from 11-run deficit to secure eighth straight win

Published 12:31 pm Tuesday, March 14, 2023

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The Pike Liberal Arts Patriots (9-6) won their eighth straight game on Monday, rallying from an 11-run deficit to beat the Ariton Purple Cats by a score of 13-12 in a thriller.

Pike Lib struggled to get on the scoreboard early in the game and Ariton was able to take a 3-0 lead in the top of the third inning. The Purple Cats stretched it out to a 10-1 lead going into the sixth inning. In the bottom of the sixth, however, the Patriots exploded.

“I thought we competed well, especially late,” PLAS Coach Will Austin said. “I thought (Ariton) came out and punched us in the mouth a little bit but we were able to fight back in the end and get a win. Anytime you can do that it’s a good thing.”

Cole Garrott and Payne Jefcoat combine for a double play against Ariton. (Photo by Josh Boutwell)

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After Houston Gunter got the Pike scoring started off an error, KC Bradford belted a single into right field that drove Cole Garrott home followed by Levi DeBoer driving Jackson Booth home off a ground ball single into right field to cut the deficit to 10-4. KC Bradford scored off another Ariton error and then John Lott drilled a single into center field to bring DeBoer home and bring the Patriots within four runs.

With the bases loaded, Gunter singled a line drive into center field to send Lott home and then Davis Kilcrease’s double drove Dawson Bradford home to bring the Ariton lead down to 10-9. Garrott singled into left field to drive Gunter home for the tying run.

Finally, KC Bradford gave Pike its first lead of the night with a line drive into left field that sent Kilcrease home, giving the Patriots an 11-10 lead. DeBoer then blasted a single into center field that drove both Garrott and KC Bradford home to put the Patriots up 13-10.

In the seventh inning, the Purple Cats attempted a rally of their own when Landon Tyler blasted a two-run homer that also drove Connor Thrash home to bring Ariton within one run. Pike’s KC Bradford then came on the mound in relief and proceeded to mow down the next three straight batters to secure the almost unthinkable comeback with three consecutive strikeouts.

KC Bradford is one of Pike’s senior leaders. (Photo by Josh Boutwell)

“KC’s a senior and has been here awhile and ever since he was in the seventh grade he’s known how to compete and be a leader,” Austin said of KC Bradford. “I can’t say enough good things about him. He’s a great leader and a great person and someone you want on your team.”

Pike Lib’s come-from-behind win was one that not many teams are able to pull off.

“I’ve been a part of a few (comebacks) in my playing days and coaching career but you don’t have a whole lot of comebacks to that magnitude,” Austin said.

DeBoer had a big day at the plate, going 4-for-4 with two doubles, three RBIs and a run, while KC Bradford, Lott, Gunter, Kilcrease and Garrott each tallied two hits. Payne Jefcoat, Garrott and Gunter scored two runs each, while Lott, Dawson Bradford, Kilcrease and Booth scored one run. All but two Patriots in the lineup earned both a hit and a run on the afternoon.

A total of five Patriot pitchers touched the mound in the win. Kade Brookins earned the start and struck out five batters, while giving up four hits and three earned runs in three innings. Jefcoat struck out four batters and gave up one hit and one earned run in one and 1/3 innings. KC Bradford earned the save with three strikeouts and no hits or runs allowed in one inning. Of KC Bradford’s 14 total pitches, nine were strikes. Jefcoat, Garrott and KC Bradford each had a double play on defense, as well.

Tyler went 2-for-4 at the plate for Ariton with a pair of homers, four RBIs and two runs. Caden Collier went 2-for-5 with three RBIs and two runs. Coleman Bragg earned four strikeouts and gave up three hits and no earned runs in three innings pitched for the Purple Cats. Lawson Leger gave up seven hits and no earned runs with one strikeout in two and 1/3 innings on the mound.

The Patriots have won eight consecutive games after starting the season 1-6.

“The biggest difference is the kid’s are competing and having fun and playing hard for one another,” Austin said of Pike’s winning streak. “When you do that and get solid pitching and defense and string some hits together, good things will happen. When you get kids believing good things will happen.”

The Patriots will look to keep their momentum going this Thursday on the road for a Class 2A, Area 5 matchup with the Goshen Eagles.