Pirates Don’t Break For Spring, Still #1 in PBC


Photo credit: Elizabeth Rhaney

Photo credit: Elizabeth Rhaney
Photo credit: Elizabeth Rhaney

By Berry Aldridge, Sports Editor

The No. 12 ranked Armstrong Pirates baseball team entered into spring break having dropped a non-conference series to Tusculum College. The team turned it around with a 14-10 win over Claflin University March 18 by sweeping Peach Belt Conference opponent GRU Augusta to maintain their number one spot in the standings.

The Pirates got their weekend series started March 20 with junior Cody Sherlin’s sac fly during the seventh inning that gave his team the definitive lead.

The Pirates jumped out to an early 4-0 lead in the second inning that junior Kendrick Thompson got started with an RBI single.

Junior Will Austin then brought home the second run after reaching first base on a fielder’s choice with the bases loaded. Senior Tyler Avera reached first base on an error that allowed a third run to score. And finally, Sherlin cracked a double down the right field line that scored Austin.

The Jaguars fought back with two runs in the third and again during the fifth inning to tie the game.

The Pirates struck back with a sacrifice RBI by Thompson in the sixth inning. Clint Hardy of the Jaguars tied the game up in the same inning with a solo home run. Sherlin was able to give his team the final lead when he scored Austin on a sacrifice fly to right field. Senior Ryan Good moved to 4-0 on the season with his 1 and 2/3 innings of work in the fifth and sixth.

Junior Tyler Graham picked up his sixth save of the season.

The Pirates returned to Lake Olmstead Stadium on March 21 for a doubleheader against the Jaguars and it was much of the same for the Pirates.

The Pirates fell behind 1-0 in the bottom of the second on an error. Austin got his team back into the game with a single RBI in the top of the fourth inning. Junior JT Phillips reached on an error in the fifth that allowed senior RJ Dennard to score and give his team their first lead.

The Pirates added an insurance run during the eighth inning with a single RBI by Dennard, they went on to win game one 3-1. Junior Pete Nagel is 3-0 on the year after going seven innings and allowing on base while striking out four. Graham again pulled out another save, giving him seven for the season.

“We played great baseball, pitched well, played great defense, and had timely hitting,” Nagel said, “This was a recipe for a great weekend.”

The Pirates went up 2-0 in the early stages of game two with a single RBI by senior Zach Lance. The Jaguars fought back in the bottom of the fourth to tie the game. In the fifth inning, the Pirates added on two more runs after a sacrifice bunt by Sherlin and an RBI single by Dennard. Sherlin added on one more run for his team with a single in the top of the seventh as the Pirates moved on to a 5-3 win. Austin picked up a whopping seven hits on the day while junior catcher Berry Aldridge added three of his own in game three.

The Pirates maintained a half game lead over North Georgia for first place in the PBC and one Pirate talked about what they have done to stay that way.

“Good pitching and timely hitting has helped us to be successful the first half of the year,” Austin said, “The key to keep playing well and winning will be to stay focused and do the little things right.”

Junior Caleb Woods pitched two dominating 8th innings in game one and two for the Pirates and talked about the sweep for his team.

Woods said, “We played great this weekend. Great team play every game. Our hitters capitalized on their errors and really put pressure on their pitchers. Everyone battled through adversity and picked each other up. We grinded through a lot this weekend and really showed how to play as a team.”