Pirates manage home opener win

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Pirates manage home opener win
Charles Basford throws a strike for PJC

Robert KlawitterThe Corsair

Freshmen were key in PJC Pirates baseball team pulling out narrow 5-4 victory over Southern Alabama Community College, at home opener Feb.  2.  It was a “good gut check,” for the team, Coach Bill Hamilton said. 

Freshman Josh Tanski, from Apopka, played a huge role, hitting in the leadoff spot and as a relief pitcher in his debut at Pirate Field.  Tanski went 2-3 from the plate, with two singles, a walk, two runs scored, and an RBI.  He also pitched two shutout innings to close out the game after the Pirates grabbed their final lead in the seventh inning.  Tanski was a unanimous choice for player of the game by his teammates, and received the lineup card, which is given out after each game by Hamilton, to the player that had the biggest impact on the game. 

Why the lineup card?

“I told these guys to keep a scrapbook, these are times they will always remember and cherish,” Hamilton said.

Starting sophomore pitcher Charles Basford, from Tallahassee, started shaky in the first inning, hitting a batter that eventually scored on an error.  After the Pirates tied the game in the bottom half of the inning, Basford settled down, retiring the next six hitters he faced.  He also made a great defensive play, fielding a weak ground ball between the mound and first base, then sliding to the bag to beat out the runner to first.

PJC gained its first lead of the game in the bottom of the second, when sophomore Steven Groves, from Cantonment, hit a solo home run over the left-center-field wall.  “Groves’ home run was big,” Hamilton said. “It gave us the lead.”

Sophomore pitcher, Ryan Sorce, from Pace, retired the first three batters he faced when he came in for relief in the top of the fourth.  The game plan coming in was “patchwork pitching,” Hamilton said, due to multiple pitchers being used in double-header games the previous weekend.

In the bottom of the fourth, freshman third baseman, Blake Brown, from Semmes, Ala., led off with a single, followed by Groves reaching on a walk.  Groves eventually scored on a two-out double by freshman outfielder, Josh Doyle, from Hartselle, Ala.  Tanski drove in Doyle with a clutch single, the second two-out RBI base hit for the Pirates in the inning.  

Southern tied the game 4-4 off a two-run double in the top of the sixth, but freshman pitcher, J.J. McLaughlin, from Clermont, ended the rally with a strikeout for the third out, leaving two Southern runners on base.

“We thought it would be more of an offensive game, but we battled back today,” assistant head coach Keith Little said

PJC grabbed the late lead in the bottom of the seventh after Tanski led off the inning with a single, and came around to score what turned out to be the game winning run, but only after he shutout Southern from the mound in the eighth and ninth innings.

After all his contributions, Tanski said, “It was an overall team effort today.”

Hamilton looks forward to working on improvements, even after the win. 

“We have to get better defensively, and improve on driving in runners from third,” Coach Hamilton said.  “Our guys looking forward to doing what it takes at practice to get better and this win will give them an extra pep in their step tomorrow.”