Piedmont wins RRC tourney
Corey Sikes carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning and got plenty of offensive support in Piedmont High's 9-1 win over Cuthbertson that gave the Panthers the Rocky River Conference tournament title on Friday.
Sikes finished with a complete-game one-hitter, defeating future college teammate Andrew Hendel in a matchup of left-handers who are both headed to Western Carolina on scholarship.
Leading 1-0 entering the bottom of the third inning, Piedmont broke it open with three runs. With two outs, Nigel Hester punched a two-RBI triple that rolled to the wall in right-center, giving his team a 3-0 lead.
"He threw a low, outside pitch so I was thinking backside all the way. So I just drove the ball. Once I saw it was by the outfielder I was thinking three all the way."
"Nigel's triple was big because it set the tone," said Piedmont coach Milt Flow.
Hester later scored on a passed ball for a 4-0 advantage heading into the fourth.
He finished 2-for-3, including the game-winning RBI when he knocked in Cameron Price with a two-out single to left in the first inning.
Hester, a junior outfielder, batted .451 in the regular season.
"I'm playing better baseball compared to last year," Hester said. "As a team, we're all doing good this year. We're clicking ... we're practically a family. We're always with each other. We just love the game of baseball."
Piedmont finished with eight hits, led by Price, a senior outfielder who threw a complete-game two-hitter the day before in a 1-0 win over North Stanly.
Price belted a grand slam with two outs in the bottom of the sixth to put the game out of reach, scoring Hunter Purser, Jonathan Caldwell and Colton Green in front of him.
In addition to his four RBI, Price was 2-for-3 with three runs scored and four putouts in center field.
Piedmont didn't have an error in either tournament game, while Price and Sikes allowed a combined three hits and one walk each.
"Corey, he's lights out," Price said. "Our defense is so good, I love pitching with these guys behind me. Hunter Jones, he's solid at shortstop. Our whole defense is. That's why I like throwing. When you have a good defense like that you don't have to worry about doing too much on the hill. Just throw it."
Sophomore Bailey Connell broke up Sikes' no-hitter by leading off the seventh with a double. After moving over on a wild pitch, Connell scored on an infield grounder..
"Corey pitched great," said Flow, who watched Sikes improve to 7-0 on the year. "He was so close to a no-hitter. I'm glad he got to finish it out. It was good to get a complete game from him.
"For Corey to beat a team as good as Cuthbertson three times in a season, that's doing something."
Senior third baseman Colby Barnette added Piedmont's final run, going back-to-back after Price's slam. Barnette now has a team-high six homers, including two in the tourney, and was 2-for-3 in Friday's win.
Piedmont improved to 22-2 on the season while Cuthbertson dropped to 16-7.
Cuthbertson won the RRC tournament the previous three seasons, and had never lost a conference tournament game (11-0) before Friday.