Pike Lib splits third round series with Ariton

Published 8:53 pm Wednesday, May 3, 2023

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The Pike Liberal Arts Patriots (24-11) split a doubleheader in the third round of the Class 2A State Playoffs with the Ariton Purple Cats on Wednesday.

In game one, Ariton jumped ahead 1-0 in the first inning but Pike Lib tied things up 1-1 in the second. In the third, senior KC Bradford blasted a two-run home run to put the Patriots up 3-1. Pike Lib led 4-3 going into the bottom of the sixth when Ariton scored three runs to take a 6-4 lead.

In the top of the seventh inning, facing two outs, John Lott blasted an RBI triple into right field to drive Bradford home and bring PLAS within one run. Lott then scored the tying run on a wild pitch before the Cats earned the third out. Pike managed to earn three straight outs in the bottom of the seventh to force extra innings.

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In the bottom of the eighth, Ariton’s Caden Collier hit the walk-off single that drove Myles Tyler home to give the Cats the 8-7 win.

Lott went 2-for-3 with a triple, one RBI and three runs, while Bradford went 2-for-5 with a homer, two RBIs and two runs. Kade Brookins also earned a double. Luke Barron pitched five and 2/3 innings with two strikeouts, while giving up six hits and four earned runs. Bradford struck out a pair of batters and gave up four hits with one earned run in two innings on the mound. Bradford and Payne Jefcoat earned double plays on defense.

For Ariton, Collier went 3-for-4 with two doubles, two RBIs and one run. Tyler scored two runs. Phenix Griffin pitched six innings and fanned one batter, while giving up six hits and four earned runs.

The Patriots rebounded to throttle Ariton 14-4 in game two to force a deciding third game. The two sides were tied 1-1 going into the third inning when Ariton took a 3-1 lead in the top of the third. Pike then scored seven straight runs in the next two innings to go up 8-3.

Ariton managed to cut the Pike lead to 8-4 in the top of the fifth but the Patriots put an end to the game with six runs in the bottom of the fifth to secure a 14-4 win as the game came to an end due to the 10-run rule.

Lott had another big game at the plate, going 3-for-4 with four RBIs and one run. Bradford, Levi DeBoer and Payne Jefcoat each earned two hits, while Jefcoat scored four runs. Bradford and DeBoer scored three runs each.

Will Rice earned the win on the mound, pitching a complete game as he struck out five batters and gave up six hits and three earned runs in five innings pitched. Jefcoat and Cole Garrott each had two double plays, while Bradford earned one.

For Ariton, Collier went 2-for-2 at the plate with a double and three runs. Coleman Bragg gave up eight hits and eight earned runs in three and 1/3 innings pitched.

Pike Lib and Ariton will rematch in the third and deciding game of the series at 4 p.m. in Ariton on Thursday.