Piedmont stuns defending state champs
Piedmont High hit two grand slams and scored nine times — all with two outs in the fourth inning — to crush defending 3A state champion Weddington 16-3 on Wednesday.
The Panthers already had the game in hand with an 8-0 lead when senior catcher Cody Purser yanked a homer over the wall near the scoreboard in left field that scored Colton Greene, Hunter Jones and Andrew McManus to make it 12-0.
"I knew we were up 8-0 and I just wanted to make good contact," Purser said of his slam. "It was a long fly ball and it just kept going and going. I was happy."
The Panthers loaded the bases again for senior third baseman Colby Barnette (UNC Chapel Hill signee), who pulled his grand slam to straightaway left field. Hunter Purser, Corey Sikes and Cameron Price scored on Barnette's homer to make it 16-0.
Before the two grand slams, Jones lined an opposite-field RBI single to right to make it 8-0.
Piedmont improved to 2-1 on the season. Weddington, now 1-2, went 26-4 last year and went into the season ranked No. 1 in the 3A state poll by impactbaseball.com.
The Panthers broke up a scoreless tie with three runs in the bottom of the second inning, highlighted by Sikes' two-run homer that also scored pinch-runner Nigel Hester.
Piedmont chased starting pitcher Sean Collins, a junior who has committed to Virginia, after two innings. But it didn't slow down the Panthers, who scored four more times in the third inning to take a 7-0 lead through three innings.
Cody Purser had the big hit in the third inning, belting a bases-loaded double off the wall in left-center field.
McManus, the DH, drew an RBI walk with the bases loaded in the inning, and later scored from third base after drawing a walk for the final run of the inning that made it 7-0.
Piedmont senior pitcher Jonathan Caldwell, who has signed to pitch at Limestone, cruised through the first four innings, giving up just two hits and no runs. Caldwell got out of the fourth with a 4-6-3 double play between John Elwood, Jones and Austin Harding.
Caldwell allowed three runs on six hits in the fifth, but got the complete-game victory.
"I wanted to finish the game," said Caldwell, who plays first base when he isn't pitching. "After we scored some runs it allowed me to settle down and just throw strikes."
Piedmont is in the midst of playing four games in four days and six in a seven-day stretch.
The Panthers open Rocky River Conference play at North Stanly on Thursday, then host Parkwood on Friday and Sun Valley on Saturday.
The contest was stopped after the top of the fifth inning because of the 10-run mercy rule.