Piedmont pulls away in sixth
Piedmont High scored eight runs in the bottom of the sixth inning in an 11-1 home win over Forest Hills that ended early because of the mercy rule.
The Panthers made 12 plate appearances in the sixth and had seven hits in the inning, including two each by Hunter Jones, Colby Barnette and Hunter Purser.
Barnette led off the sixth with a home run to left, giving him four on the season and later singled in the same inning.
Jones, a junior shortstop who took an unofficial visit to Winthrop University last weekend, had the best day of his career at the plate. Jones went 4-for-4 with three doubles, three RBI and two runs scored.
"It was a fun day," said Jones, who pulled his batting average up to .458. "I was seeing it well, trying to make good contact."
"That was Hunter's best game by far," said Piedmont coach Milt Flow. "He hit the ball all over the field."
Piedmont ran its winning streak to 15 games and improved its record to 8-0 in the Rocky River Conference (15-1 overall).
The Panthers moved up to second in the 2A state poll (impactbaseball.com) after being ranked fourth last week.
Piedmont junior Corey Sikes improved his record to 5-0 on the mound. After giving up a leadoff home run in the first inning to Forest Hills sophomore shortstop David Nash, Sikes settled.
The lefty struck out seven without issuing a walk in the complete-game victory. Sikes held the Jackets to two hits — the other being an infield single by Aaron Stewart in the fifth.
Piedmont had 10 hits, including two homers in the sixth inning.
Center fielder Cameron Price also had two hits, including a three-run homer to right that scored Hunter Purser and Jones in the sixth.
Piedmont didn't commit an error, and Sikes got some help with a diving catch by Purser in left field that robbed Jackets catcher Davis Hollis of extra bases.
Forest Hills lefty Kyle Pittman, who is signing with Brevard College Wednesday morning, held Piedmont to three hits through five innings.
The Panthers led 3-1 heading into the sixth, and their two runs in the bottom of the first were unearned.
"We hadn't seen live pitching in two weeks but we finally knocked the rust off in the sixth," Jones said.
"We knew it might take a while to get our bats going and we were telling the boys to just be patience because it will come and then it did in that sixth inning," Flow said. "Corey was pitching great and we were playing good defense behind him so I felt we would be all right."
The loss dropped Forest Hills to 4-6 in the RRC and 7-10 overall.
FH was coming off a 6-4 win over South Rowan on Monday.
Xavier Bivens was 3-for-4 in the win over South, while Rashad Bivens, Jared Lee, Stewart and Hollis added two hits each.
Piedmont plays an unusual doubleheader on Wednesday. The Panthers play at Central Academy at 4:30 p.m., then drive to their home field and face Pageland Central at 7 p.m.
Piedmont will play four games in four days, including Friday's road game against West Stanly.