Sikes tosses 2-hitter, leads Piedmont into quarters
Piedmont High has reached the 2A state quarterfinals after Friday's 7-0 home win over visiting Trinity in the third round of the baseball playoffs on Friday.
Junior lefty Corey Sikes improved his record to 9-0 by going the distance in a two-hit shutout.
Sikes says Piedmont's defense, which hasn't committed an error in eight straight games, helps his confidence.
"Our defense played very well again," Sikes said. "We're really strong on defense and I have to do is go out there and throw strikes and that's what I try to do."
The game remained scoreless through three innings.
Junior right fielder Nigel Hester got the Panthers going with a leadoff single in the fourth. Hester stole second, then scored the decisive run on junior designated hitter Austin Harding's double to left-center.
After senior left fielder Hunter Purser bunted Harding over to third, senior first baseman Jonathan Caldwell lifted a sacrifice fly to left field that allowed Harding to score an insurance run with a face-first slide at home.
Piedmont added three runs on three hits in the fifth.
Senior second baseman John Elwood led off the bottom of the fifth by yanking his team-best ninth double of the year into the corner in left field. Hester had an RBI single in the fifth, and Harding added an RBI sacrifice fly.
Piedmont finished with 10 hits, including two each by Elwood, Harding, Price and Hester.
Harding had two doubles and Caldwell added his first home run of the season in the bottom of the sixth.
"It was right after a breaking ball and I knew he was probably going to throw a fastball," Caldwell said of his home run. "I didn't want to be out in front so I waited back. It was outside and I just used my hands and squared it up good.vI knew it was hit hard but it wasn't very high. I knew if it stayed up it had a chance to go out."
Coach Milt Flow was pleased to see his team bang out four extra-base hits.
"Their guy was throwing a knuckle ball and a curve ball and he kept us off balance early but we finally got to him," said Flow, whose team is now 25-2. "We've been preaching the little things like bunting and base running and we did all the little things well. We're getting great pitching and great defense and tonight we hit the ball."
Piedmont now has 10 shutouts this season, and has allowed just two runs over the last six games.
"We're doing really well, I'm proud," Sikes said. "The playoffs are a lot different. It's a big atmosphere. I like pitching in this kind of atmosphere. It pumps me up and gets me going. It's a lot of fun."
Piedmont will host defending state champion Randleman (24-5), which knocked out Cuthbertson with a convincing 15-1 home win, on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Randleman eliminated the Panthers with a 1-0 win in the second round last season.
"It's going to be a tough game," Flow said. "Obviously they've got a great program."
Trinity's season concludes at 17-11.