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March 20, 2013

Panthers get Pierced

Bruins ace strikes out 11 in win

Ridgeland High School batters had their chance against Northwest Whitfield ace Seth Pierce early in Tuesday’s game.

They missed.

After giving up three hits against the first five batters he faced, Pierce became close to unhittable the rest of the way in a 12-0 victory shortened to five innings by the run rule. Pierce recorded nine consecutive strikeouts during his gem — he finished with 11 total — and combined with the Bruins’ hitting clinic, it made for a dominant first day of Sub-region 7B-4A play for the Bruins.

Trey Hill, the second Ridgeland (7-2) batter to get a base hit off Pierce, was thrown out by Northwest (6-3) right fielder Andy Whisenant while trying to stretch his single into a double. That ended the top of the first and gave Pierce a chance to think.

“I really wasn’t locating my pitches,” Pierce said, “and I had to get my mind back in the game.”

After Gannon Hampton’s single to start the second, Pierce began a better streak and showed why he was The Daily Citizen’s 2012 All-Area Baseball Player of the Year. The next nine batters — the entire Ridgeland lineup, starting with Coty Riddle and finishing with Hampton — couldn’t put the ball in play and were victims of Pierce’s three-inning strikeout binge.

“After the second inning, he settled down,” Bruins coach Todd Middleton said. “He just missed a couple pitches in the first inning. But he was pretty sharp the whole time.”

Riddle’s popup to right field led off the fifth and broke Pierce’s streak. But Pierce fittingly finished the game with a strikeout, sitting down Logan Hicks to seal the rout.

“After that first inning, I went in there and batted and got a double,” Pierce said. “After that, I felt I was good to go and kept pitching through the rest of the game.”

Pierce’s double was just part of Northwest’s offense giving him an ample cushion.

Edwin Hernandez’s two-run home run to right-center field and Wade Terrell’s two-run double three batters later gave the Bruins a 4-0 lead after the first inning. Six hits and two walks accounted for five more runs in the second, when Northwest chased Ridgeland starting pitcher Tyler Hisey.

The Bruins added three runs in the fourth and finished the day with 13 hits. Five of them were extra-base hits.

“We’ve been hitting the ball pretty well throughout the lineup lately,” Middleton said. “That definitely helps a pitcher relax a little bit.”

In the sub-region’s scheduling format, two teams play one another three times over the course of four days. The Bruins and Panthers will play again Thursday at Ridgeland and Friday back in Tunnel Hill.

Panthers coach Scott Harden, whose team entered the game ranked No. 6 in Ga.PrepCountry.com’s Class 4A coaches poll, hopes the next two games are better.

“We didn’t show up at all,” Harden said. “Our pitcher didn’t throw strikes and we weren’t very disciplined at the plate. We didn’t play solid baseball and good teams will beat you when you do that.”

Hernandez went 2-for-3 with three RBIs to lead Northwest. Diego Peralta also went 2-for-3 with two doubles.

A.J. Orozco went 2-for-4 with an RBI, Terrell had a hit and drove in three runs and Kyle Brock and Brady Middleton each had an RBI single.

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