By Scotty Rouse
The Piedmont Pride has advanced to the Southern Collegiate Baseball league Championship Series, courtesy of a hard fought 2-1 win over Team Charlotte Thursday night at the Winthrop Ballpark. The win clinched the best of three series, after the pride won game one 18-1 and Charlotte won game two 5-3. The top-seeded Pride will now play the second-seeded SBA Bones a best of three series for the SCBL Championship. Game one is Friday night at 7:00 at the Winthrop Ballpark, game two will be Saturday night at 7:00 at Charlotte Christian HS, and game three, if needed, will be back at the Winthrop Ballpark Sunday at 3:00.
Thursday’s thriller was a classic pitcher’s duel between the Pride’s Daniel Sweeney and Charlotte’s Nathan Hendley. Both hurlers threw extremely well, while neither figured in the decision. Sweeney threw 6+ innings, allowing one unearned run and three hits, striking out 5 and walking 3. Relievers Zach English and Willis Dobison combined for three innings of shutout ball. Dobison picked up the win to run his record to 4-0, lowering his ERA to 0.88.
The Pride struck first in the bottom of the 5th inning. Mickey Dugan led off with a single. Mike Morgan sacrificed him to second, and he advanced to third a line single to right by Bailey Montoya. The pride executed the suicide squeeze to perfection, and Zack Shank laid down a perfect bunt to score Dugan. Charlotte tied the game with an unearned run in the top of the 7th. They threatened to take the lead in the top of the 8th, getting the first two men on with a walk and a single. However, Dobison struck out the next three hitters to get out of the jam.
The Pride took the lead with a run in the bottom of the eighth. Trey Logan coaxed a two-out walk from losing pitcher Jared Jobst. Chandler Redmond followed with a line double to right field that scored Logan with the eventual winning run. It was Redmond’s league leading 45th RBI. Dobison struck out Griffin Love with the tying run at second base close the game.
Pride Head Coach Joe Hudak breathed a huge sigh of relief after the game. “First of all, we have to give credit to Charlotte”, the skipper said. “They played a heck of a series after the first game loss. That was just a great baseball game.” Hudak had special praise for Sweeney. “I thought Daniel Sweeney was the key to the game, throwing 6+ innings and allowing no earned runs. Both Zach English and Willis Dobison threw very well in relief.”
Now it’s on to the Championship Series against the SBA Bones. Hudak was excited about the matchup. “They have a great club, and have won 11 games in a row”, he commented. “It should be a great series between the top two teams in the league.”