The 12th ranked Pirates took to the road for the first time of the young 2014 season, as they headed south to the sands and waves of the Gulf Coast to participate in the Kevin Miller Classic at Gulf Coast State College in Panama City, Florida for a three game set against Wallace State-Hanceville, Alabama Southern, and Gulf Coast.
In game 1, Dalton Rentz made his first start of the year under the lights against traditional Northern Division foe, Wallace State-Hanceville, and he was nothing short of brilliant, as he tossed 7 beautiful no hit innings of baseball, in which he punched out 5 Lions and surrendered only 2 walks.
Meanwhile, the Pirate offense hammered the baseball all night long, and got on the board in the second, when Jared Martin smoked a one out double and Cam Sperry drove him in with an RBI single to center field to give Rentz all of the runs he would need.
After a scoring stalemate for the next 3 innings, the Pirates chased the Hanceville starter in the bottom of the 6th and rocked their bullpen for 5 runs. A John Holland walk and stolen base led to an RBI single by Trevor Kieboom. After back to back intentional walks to Jared Martin and Cam Sperry, “Boom” scored on a passed ball, and Jeff Ronpirin hammered a 2 run single to right field, while “Johnny” Lingo followed him with an RBI double of his own to put the game out of reach at 6-0.
With Rentz tossing a no-no, but reaching a pitch count, Coach Thomas called on Trevor Guthrie to close things out in the 8th and 9th. Unfortunately, he surrendered a leadoff single in the eighth to spoil the second possible no hitter, in as many weekends, however, he was spectacular nonetheless, striking out 3 hitters and preserving the shutout and 6-0 win.
Game 2 against Alabama Southern was an outstanding game that the Pirates came up just short on, losing 4-3. Starter Kevin Moore was fantastic in his 5 innings of work, surrendering only 2 hits, while striking out 4 and walking 2. The only blemish was a 2 run homer in the second to put the Pirates behind temporarily 2-0.
The offense barrelled up balls all night long, but simply hit it right at them. However, after a 2 out RBI single by Drew Dunagan in the 2nd closed the gap to 2-1, the Pirate offense took the lead in the third, when Ronpirin led off with a triple and John Holland followed him up with a 2 run homer to give Chatt Valley a 3-2 lead.
Moore made it stick through the next 2 innings. After a good outing, Moore was lifted for reliever Payne Kosobucki in the 6th. After getting the first out, the Eagles hit back to back singles and drew a walk to load the bases. Huntbo Mitchell came in and pitched magnificently in relief, as he escaped the 6th inning jame allowing only a single run.
In the 7th, AL Southern loaded the bases with none out, and once again Mitchell bowed his neck and shut the door, keeping the Eagles off the board and the score at 3 all.
After the Pirates had opportunites to score in the 6th and 7th, ASCC pushed across the go ahead run with a 2 out, 2 strike RBI single to make the tally 4-3, bad guys.
After a lazer show in the 8th, the Pirates continued the “at em ball” theme, and unfortunately went quietly in the 9th to drop their first contest of the year, 4-3.
With the rubber match against the host team, Gulf Coast, the Pirates had an offensive explosion against the Commodores, scoring 14 runs on 16 hits in a 7 inning game. The Pirates got going early and often, going ahead 1-0 in the first on Trevor Kieboom’s sac fly to score Jeff Ronpirin who singled earlier.
Starter Matty Evenson threw up a zero in the first and the offense went right back to work with a 3 run second when JD Perrry got things started with a solo homer to left. Kieboom picked up 2 more of his 4 RBI day with a 2 out single to score Ronpirin and John Holland. Up 4-0, the ‘Dores put a run on the board in the 2nd on a wild pitch to make it 4-1.
However, the Pirates answered right back, when Sam Knight and Johnny Lingo both singled to start the third. Knight later scored on James Cunningham’s RBI fielders choice.
Up 5-1 comfortably, things temporarily unraveld for the Pirates, as GC touched Evenson for 5 runs of their own in the third, but only 2 were earned. Will Tillery came in relieve and picked up the win, tossing only 1/3 of an inning.
The Pirates had a 5 run explosion of their own in the fourth, when Kieboom and Jared Martin started the inning with free passes. After a failed bunt attempt, Lingo doubled in those 2 runs and scored on Perry’s base hit bunt. Ronpirin added the 5th run on an RBI single of his own, to retake control of the game with a 10-6 lead.
Cody Sheffield made his 2014 debut and tossed a scoreless 4th, as did Tyler Welch who threw up a zero in the 5th. However, the Commodores scratched across an unearned run in the 6th, and Coach Thomas went to closer Chris Brown to shut things down. And shut things down he did, as he struck out 5 of the 6 outs he recorded.
Meanwhile, the offense added 4 more insurance runs in the 7th on back to back doubles by Tyler Lynn and Trevor Kieboom and RBI singles by Reid Michalek and Jeff Ronpirin to run the final tally to 14-7 Pirates.
The Pirates now sit at 5-1 on the year and will travel to Tifton, Georgia to face ABAC for a 3:00 eastern game. However, rain is in the forecast, so stay posted for possible postponements.