Helms' Blast Carries Pats Past Comets
The only question about the ball hit in the top of the eighth inning by Pinecrest’s Tristan Helms at Asheboro Monday night was would it be fair or foul.
The ball went over the left-field wall at McCrary Park just inside the foul pole for the senior’s fourth home run in five games.
It provided the deciding run in the Patriots’ 4-3 victory. Matt Epley picked up his second win of the season in relief as coach Jeff Hewitt’s squad improved to 5-0.
Aaron Reimer pitched the first six innings, allowing two hits and no earned runs while striking out nine batters and walking three.
“A lot of what we work on this year is trying to shorten the swing path,” Hewitt said. “And if you watch Tristan, he has a short swing path. That means when he goes from point A to point B, he stays inside the ball, it’s quick, he doesn’t try to muscle up, and he’s doing a great job getting the barrel on the ball. He’s in complete control of his swing right now.”
The Patriots’ first run of the game crossed the plate in the second inning on a passed ball. They took a 3-1 lead into the bottom of the seventh after Dalton Bullard squeezed home a run.
But a one-out home run in the bottom half by Dylan Prevatte off relief pitcher Tanner Haley sent the game into extra innings. Then came the lead-off blast by Helms in the top of the eighth and Epley retired the home team in order in the bottom half.
One of the longest outings of Reimer’s varsity career extended the senior right-hander’s string of innings without allowing an earned run to 14 2/3 this season.
“One of the things I’m seeing about Aaron is his maturity level on the mound,” Hewitt said. “When he spikes a breaking ball in the dirt, last year it would tend to carry over into two or three at bats. This year he’s making adjustments quicker.
“He’s just competing with his stuff — not trying to do any more than he can.”
The Patriots were scheduled to begin Southeastern Conference play with a home game against Hoke County on Tuesday.
They have another league date at home on Friday against Lumberton.
A tradition begun by the Patriot coaches this season is the designation of a “Hard-Hat Player of the Game.” Reimer was awarded the hard-hat with two “P’s” on it for his performance against Asheboro. Epley and Culley Bayless were other recent recipients.
“We call it the ‘Hard-Hat Player of the Game’ because we want the kids to play like they are going to work every day,” the coach said. “They’re competing to see who wins the hard-hat. We gave it to Aaron because he just kept throwing up zeros to give us a chance.
“I think we’re seeing that our pitchers are keeping us in the ball game. Coach Coles (Daniel) is doing a great job with them.”
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