Late inning rallies vault Pirates past Lions


#32 RJ Dennard at bat
Photo credit: Ben Slone

By Caleb Bailey, Staff Writer

The Armstrong Pirates continued their winning ways with a series win over the Emmanuel College Lions this weekend. It was a pair of late-inning rallies that allowed the Pirates to jump past the Lions in a pair of exhilarating games Feb. 7.

The Lions clawed their way into the lead in the top of the second inning in the first game. A Pirate error put Logan South on base and Daniel Shealy crushed a double to the centerfield wall. This allowed Ty Tipton to hit a sacrifice pop fly to give his team their only lead of the game.

The Pirates did not give up any more runs thanks to terrific mound work by Junior Corey Kafka and great defense.

Sophomore Ryan Patterson came in to pinch hit for the Pirates and looped a single to left field. Freshman Chandler Corley came into run for Patterson and that is all the team needed.

A sacrifice and an error put Corley in scoring position at third base and Junior Kendrick Thompson stepped up to the plate. He brought home Corley on a sacrifice ground out to tie the game.

Senior RJ Dennard then gave his team the lead with a single RBI to right field.

The Pirates held on for the 2-1 win thanks to great pitching by the team as they racked up 14 collective strikeouts. Cody Kremer picked up his first decision of the year with a win, striking out 4. Tyler Graham picked up his first save of the season.

Thompson talked about the defensive play of his team: “The pitchers came out and pitched good. The hitters kind of struggled at the plate, but the pitchers held it down. Our defense kept us in the game and kept it close. Our offense finally stepped it up in the end. We didn’t give up. We just kept going and kept fighting.”

The fans got more of the same in the second game as the Pirates struggled to get their offense started in the early goings of the game. Junior Pete Nagel and the Pirates defense got into a bind in the top of the third inning.

A walk and a big hit put by the Lions put runners at first and third with no outs on the board. Hanon Price brought home a run on a single RBI and Elliot Beard scored from third base on the throw from catcher to first base after a strikeout that gave their team the 2-0 lead.

The Pirates answered in the bottom of the fourth when Junior JT Phillips and Corley each cracked RBI doubles to tie the game.

Thompson stepped up in the bottom of the seventh when he brought home the winning run with a RBI double of his own.

“It was a hard fought game,” Corley said. “I’m glad that we won. It’s nice to see us battle adversity and come out on top. Proud of the guys for fighting like we did today.”

Head coach Calvain Culberson said, “They put us in a bind and our guys strung together a couple of clutch hits. We were fortunate enough to come out ahead.”

Feb. 8, The Pirates suffered their first loss of the season, losing against the Lions 7-5.

“You’re going to have days where things aren’t going to go your way,” Culberson said, “Emmanuel has a really good ball club and they pitched extremely well today. It goes to show that if you can pitch and play some defense, you’re going to be in a good game. That’s what they did to us.”

The Pirates will host USC Aiken in their first Peach Belt series with a doubleheader on Feb. 14.