Panthers win tourney, improve to 14-1
Piedmont High won the Third Annual Griffin-Toxey Classic baseball tournament in dominant fashion on Wednesday, scoring seven runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to defeat archrival Porter Ridge, 16-6, in a mercy rule game.
The Panthers have now won 14 games in a row to improve to 14-1, and they ended Porter Ridge's eight-game winning streak.
Furthermore, Piedmont avenged a 5-2 season-opening loss to Porter Ridge (10-4) on Feb. 28.
"We wanted to avenge that loss bad," said senior catcher Cody Purser, who belted a grand slam to right field in the fifth. "That was our first game of the season. We didn't want them to beat us, especially to beat us twice. We wanted to come out here and score a lot of runs and dominate. We didn't want to let them hang with us. We wanted to win big.
"Especially being Porter Ridge, which is like two minutes away. We wanted to avenge them and beat every team in the county. That was a goal right there."
Piedmont is now 9-1 against Union County schools, outscoring the rest of UC 127-18 this season.
"It means a whole lot to because all season we've been wanting to get them back some how," said Piedmont senior third baseman Colby Barnette, who was named tournament MVP. "That first game I don't think we were as ready to play as we have been lately."
Barnette went 3-for-5 with a double, a triple, three RBI and two runs scored against the Pirates.
Junior lefty Corey Sikes earned the win, improving his record to 4-0 by pitching 4 1/3 before giving way to Cameron Price.
Porter Ridge jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, but Piedmont responded with four runs in the bottom half.
John Elwood led off with an infield single, Price reached on an error and Barnette doubled to left to score Elwood.
After Hunter Purser walked to load the bases, Hunter Jones reached on an error, scoring Price to make it 3-2.
Nigel Hester walked to load the bases again, setting up Austin Harding's two-RBI single up the middle tthat gave Piedmont a 4-3 lead.
The Panthers scored in every inning, and reached double-digit runs for the seventh time this season.
Porter Ridge was still hanging around in the fifth, scoring a run in the top half to cut Piedmont's lead to 9-6.
But for the second time in the game, Piedmont's entire lineup batted in the same inning in the bottom of the fifth.
Hunter Purser led off with a walk, Hunter Jones singled to right and Nigel Hester reached on an error.
After Harding walked, Colton Greene reached on a fielder's choice that scored Jones.
Cody Purser then stepped to the plate and slapped an opposite field grand slam to right to make it 14-6; he now has five home runs on the season.
The Panthers scored all seven runs without making an out in the fifth. After Purser's slam, Elwood drew a walk and Barnette smashed a triple to the fence in right-center.
The game ended when Barnette was awarded home plate after the throw to third base was errant.
Cody Purser said the win was important to the Panthers. "We feel like we're one of the best teams right now and we want to keep our winning streak going and we don't want to slack up," he said. "It's Spring Break. A lot of people are wanting to be at the beach or on vacation. We just want to be up here playing baseball. We want to stay hot."
Before this week, Piedmont had an 0-5 record in the Griffin-Toxey Classic.
"It's nice to win an event you put on yourself," said Piedmont coach Milt Flow. "Tonight we brought our bats, and we were patient, took walks. We played pretty well, but we still have room to improve and that's a good thing."