Pike Lib upsets No. 1 GW Long

Published 9:31 am Monday, April 10, 2023

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On Friday, April 7, the Pike Liberal Arts Patriots (15-9) knocked off Class 2A’s No. 1-ranked GW Long Rebels (19-3) by a score of 9-5 at home.

The win marked the first game ever between two of the areas top baseball programs over the past several years, and a battle between reigning state champions. Long is the reigning 2A State Championships, while Pike won a state championship in the school’s final season in the AISA last season, as well. In fact, PLAS and Long have each won four state championships in the last six seasons.

Long has also spent the entirety of the 2023 season as the No. 1 team in the Alabama Sports Writers Association (ASWA) Top 10, while Pike has spent the majority of the season bouncing between No. 7 and 9. Last week, though, PLAS fell out of the Top 10 for the first time this season following back-to-back losses to Houston Academy and Pike Road.

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Long jumped ahead 2-0 in the first inning but Pike cut the lead to 2-1 when Davis Kilcrease scored on an error in the bottom of the second. The Patriots tied the score in the bottom of the third inning after KC Bradford belted a solo home run.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, Bradford scored the go-ahead run on an error and then Levi DeBoer scored after tagging up on a pop fly into right field to stretch the PLAS lead to 4-2. In the top of the sixth, Long tied the score 4-4 when two runners scored on the same error.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, however, PLAS took command for good. DeBoer started off a five-run inning with an RBI single into left field that drove Houston Gunter home and then Luke Barron scored on an error to put the Patriots up 6-4. Bradford scored his third run of the game after tagging up on a pop fly and Kilcrease drilled a line drive double into left field that drove Payne Jefcoat home. DeBoer also stole home to give Pike Lib a 9-4 lead going into the seventh inning.

GW Long’s Cohen Pritchett started off the top of the seventh strong with a solo home run that cut Pike’s lead to 9-5 but that was as close as the Rebels would get as the Patriots made short work of the rest of the inning, earning three outs in the next five batters.

For Pike, Bradford led the way at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a double, a home run, one RBI and three runs, while Kilcrease went 2-for-3 with two doubles, an RBI and a run. Gunter also went 2-for-3 with a run and DeBoer went 2-for-3 with an RBI, a run and a stolen base.

A total of six PLAS pitchers hit the mound against Long, with Will Rice and Kade Brookins each pitching two innings. Rice’s two innings was his first since returning from a minor injury earlier in the season. The junior struck out two batters and gave up two hits and two earned runs, while Brookins fanned three batters and gave up one hit and no earned runs.

Pritchett went 1-for-3 at the plate for Long with a homer, one RBI and one run, while Hayes Horne went 2-for-3 with two runs. James Kelly pitched all seven innings and struck out a pair of batters, while giving up nine hits and two earned runs.

Pike travels to Zion Chapel on April 11 followed by a Class 2A, Area 5 series with Luverne April 13-15.