Panthers beat FH 12-1 for 8th straight win
Cameron Price was 4-for-4 at the plate and pitcher Corey Sikes allowed just one hit to lead Piedmont High's baseball team to a 12-1 road win at Forest Hills on Friday.
The Panthers have now won eight straight games to improve to 8-1, and stand 3-0 in the Rocky River Conference.
Price, a senior center fielder, opened the game with a single and also had three stand-up doubles.
"I saw the ball really well," Price said. "I've been hitting in the cage a little more, doing some whiffle ball stuff, and I think it helped me out."
Sikes, now 2-0 on the mound, is a junior lefty who has already committed to a scholarship offer from Western Carolina.
"I knew I had a good defense behind me and all I had to do was throw strikes and that's what I did," Sikes said. "I was really proud of the way the guys played. Cameron Price really hit the ball well. He was awesome."
Panthers coach Milt Flow has watched his team average 13 runs in conference play, outscoring RRC opponents by a combined score of 39-14.
"It seems like it's somebody different every night," Flow said. "Cameron Price had his bust-out game tonight. I thought we ran the bases really well and put some pressure on them. We played really good defense and Corey was on."
In addition to Price's big night at the plate, junior shortstop Hunter Jones contributed a pair of RBI singles and senior first baseman Jonathan Caldwell led off the five-run fourth inning with a double.
The Panthers scored all the runs they needed in the second, when Jones reached on an error, stole second and scored on right fielder Nigel Hester's single. Sikes helped himself out when he slapped an opposite-field single to left field to knock in Hester and give the Panthers a 2-0 lead.
Junior first baseman Xavier Bivens broke up the shutout when he led off the Forest Hills fourth with a walk. He moved to second base when senior shortstop Rashad Bivens, his older brother, laid a bunt single down the third base line.
Xavier Bivens scored from third base on sophomore Aaron Stewart's sacrifice fly to center field.
Sikes needed just 60 pitches to pick up the win.
"My breaking ball was keeping guys off balance," Sikes said. "My curveball and fastball were working really well for me today."
The Panthers are ridiculously deep on the mound. While most high schools are happy to have two legitimate starters, Flow plans to use a four-man rotation that includes Sikes, Price, Caldwell and Colby Barnette.
"It's going to help us later because when it warms up our pitchers will still be fresh," Flow said. "We tell our pitchers, the way we're playing defense you should want to throw more strikes. We have a lot of confidence in our defense."
Price says the Panthers' success runs deeper than the hits, defense or depth of the pitching staff.
"This is the closest team I've ever been on," Price said. "We've got cousins and family members and best friends on this team. I don't hear anybody in the dugout talk crap about another person. We're just like, tight. We have real good chemistry."
Forest Hills started the season 3-0, but dropped back-to-back conference games at the end of the week — including a 6-0 home loss to West Stanly on Thursday.
Flow has been impressed with Cory Smith, Forest Hills' second-year coach.
"Cory's doing a good job over here," Flow said. "He's got that fire about him and that's what you've got to have when you're turning a program around."
The Jackets travel to Cuthbertson on Tuesday while the Panthers will put their win streak on the line at West Stanly.