Patriots Get Wild Win Over Swett
Dalton Bullard was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning, giving Pinecrest a 12-11 victory over Purnell Swett, ending a wild and wacky Friday evening of baseball.
Matt Eddy hit two home runs, including a grand slam that completed a comeback from a five-run deficit in the bottom of the eighth inning. The senior first baseman drove in six runs and also helped set up the winning tally with a double in the ninth.
Left-hander Tristan Helms, the Patriots’ seventh hurler of the game, pitched out of a jam in the top of the ninth and received credit for the victory. Bullard was the sixth Patriot batter to be hit by a pitch in the game. Jordan Brooks homered twice for the Rams.
Coach Jeff Hewitt’s squad takes an 8-2 overall and 2-1 record in the Southeastern Conference into Tuesday’s home game against Richmond Senior. The Rams dropped to 3-5 and 0-3.
“I never played in a game like this and I never coached in a game like this,” Hewitt said afterward, “but if I was going to, I’d want to do it with these kids. They just battled and grinded the entire time.”
Four of the runs were unearned as the Rams scored five times against Patriot starting pitcher Weston Phillips and reliever Jackson Smith in the top of the second. A two-run blast by Eddy closed the gap to 5-2 in the third.
Smith and Aaron Reimer kept the Ram batters in check during the middle innings as the Patriots fought back. It was 5-3 in the bottom of the fifth when Austin Embler led off with a double over the center fielder’s head. A hit batter, a walk, an infield single by Alan Watson and a Ram error added up to three runs and a 6-5 Patriot lead.
Reimer had retired eight batters in a row when the Rams put together singles by Chase and Drew Armstrong to tie the game at 6-all. The Pats’ Matt Epley backed the Ram center fielder to the wall for the final out in the bottom of the seventh. The fun was just about to begin.
Brooks homered to lead off the top of the eighth. The next four Rams also reached base and scored, giving them an 11-6 lead before Epley, the third pitcher of the inning, got the side out.
The Patriot eighth was equally as productive, but more dramatic.
Watson led off the frame with a single. Cam Embler doubled to the base of the center field wall and Helms was hit by a pitch loading the bases with none out. A walk to Austin Embler forced in a run, bringing up Eddy.
Pitcher Ricky Ivey got two quick strikes on the Patriot slugger before he deposited the next pitch over the fence in straight-away left, tying the game at 11-11.
“Honestly, the grand slam was just a defensive two-strike swing,” said Eddy, who now has four home runs and 18 RBIs on the season. “My team needed me and I just got it done.”
With rain falling, there was a short delay in the top of the ninth to fix up the pitcher’s mound. When the first two Rams reached base, Hewitt called for Helms, who was the starter in Tuesday’s loss at Scotland High.
“I can never remember using seven pitchers, even in a legion game,” the Patriot coach said.
Catcher Bryce Owen turned a sacrifice bunt attempt into a force out at third. After a strikeout and an infield hit, Helms struck out Ivey to end the inning.
“Last year really set me up for what I just came into,” Helms said, recalling some pressure situations he dealt with as a freshman. “I kept my calm the whole time and put my pitches where I needed to put them.”
Ivey retired the first two batters in the bottom of the ninth with the rain continuing to fall. A walk to Austin Embler was followed by Eddy’s line-drive double just inside the left-field foul line. Owen was walked, loading the bases.
Bullard, a sophomore catcher, came up to the plate for only the second time this season. He took a close pitch for a ball, making it a full count.
“I was pretty nervous,” he said afterward. “I was all over the plate. It didn’t matter to me if I got hit or not I just wanted to win. I was going to do whatever I could to get on base.”
The 3-2 pitch hit him in the back, producing the walk-off victory.
“We needed this win, coming off the Scotland game,” Hewitt said. “In general at our school, we don’t like to lose in any sport. I think that kind of showed tonight in baseball.”
R H E
Purnell Swett 0 5 0 0 0 0 1 5 0 — 11 13 3
Pinecrest 0 0 2 1 3 0 0 5 1 — 12 11 4
J. Brooks, J. Sanderson (5), J. Sampson (5), Ivey (8) and D. Armstrong. Phillips, Smith (2), Reimer (4), Eddy (8), Mace (8), Epley (8), Helms (9) and Owen. WP – Helms LP – Ivey. Leading hitters: (PS) Books 2-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI, C. Armstrong 3-3, 2 RBI, Ivey 2-5, DB, RBI, Godwin 2-5 (P) Eddy 3-5, DB, 2 HR, 6 RBI, C. Embler 2-6, 2 DB, Watson 2-4, A. Embler 1-4, DB, RBI, Mace 1-3, RBI.
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