By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
The PikeView Panthers plated seven runs in the first inning and held on to beat the Princeton Tigers 9-4, Thursday night on the PVHS campus.
“Coming off that emotional victory last night (vs. Independence) we were a bit drained and we went to sleep,” said PikeView head coach Josh Wyatt. “Our bats that had been aggressive over the last three weeks kind of went away and we got out of who we were.”
After Jacob Harmon sat the Tigers down 1-2-3 to open the game, the first six Panthers to the plate reached base and scored against Tigers starter Ian Southcott. Carter Shrewsbury walked, Hunter Moses singled and Jon Clark walked.
Austin Cordell singled to left to bring home two before Jordan Hardin followed with a single to right that scored two more, with the assist of a Princeton error. Ben Boggess singled to right and another error put runners on second and third. Zach Meadows’ one-out single to left scored Boggess and Meadows came home after Harmon and Shrewsbury walked to load the bases and Clark was hit by a pitch.
Aaron Ferguson came on in relief of Southcott and got the final out for the Tigers.
Harmon was sailing along and got the first two outs of the second inning before Ben Culicerto hit a 1-0 pitch over the fence just left of dead center. It was Culicerto and the Tigers’ first homer of the year. Culicerto was inserted late into the starting lineup after regular center fielder Billy Jack Varney was scratched due to a sore arm.
Princeton added three more runs in the third to close the gap. Bryce Peek reached on an error and Andrew Wilson banged a two-out double to put runners on second and third. Addison Wood’s infield single scored Peek and a double to the gap in left-center by Brett Wall brought home Wilson and Wood.
The teams would then take a hiatus from scoring. Ferguson worked his way through the PikeView lineup with success, utilizing a strong curveball. PikeView got its first hit off the 6’8 junior in the fifth, a single to right by Keian Lee. Lee, however, was picked off.
Levi Nash took the ball for the Panthers in the fourth inning in relief of Harmon. Harmon pitched three-and-two third innings, gave up four runs on six hits fanned three and did not walk a batter.
Nash was effective against the Princeton batters, allowing only a fifth inning walk to Wood before giving up his only hit of the game, a seventh inning single to right by Wilson.
“Our pitching has been solid,” Wyatt said. “Jacob (Harmon) and Levi (Nash), I thought they were perfect complements for each other. Levi came in and had his curve ball working. I feel like when we used our defense and pitched to spots, we reclaimed the game.
“I’ll take the blame in the second inning (Culicerto’s home run). Our pitch signals got off kilter a little bit and that was my fault.”
PikeView added a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth. Jordan Hardin had an RBI double and an error allowed Hardin to later score the game’s final run.
Hardin was 2-for-2 with two runs scored and two walks. Wilson had a pair of hits for the Tigers, one a doubler.
Nash got the win for PikeView in relief. He worked the final three-and-a-third innings, did not allow a run, gave up one hit, walked one and struck out two.
Southcott suffered the defeat as he worked two-thirds of an inning, gave up seven runs on five hits, walked four and hit one.
Princeton head coach Josh Wilburn said, “Our pitchers have to come in and give the team a chance, give our at-bats a chance.
“We can’t win the game on the mound. We have to teach our pitchers to try to keep the game as close as we can and give our hitters an opportunity to come around and score runs.
“Ferguson came in, kept us close and gave us an opportunity. When you spot a team seven runs, their pitcher gets to relax, and their infielders get to relax, and the batters even relax. They feel like they don’t have to do a whole lot. PikeView was pretty much on cruise control right there.”
Princeton closes out regular season play tonight as it hosts Independence at Hunnicutt Field. The Tigers are 9-16 and begin sectional tournament play Tuesday, visiting Greenbrier East.
PikeView concludes regular season play with a 20-7 mark. The Panthers open sectional tournament play Tuesday when they take on the winner of the Bluefield-James Monroe contest which will be held Monday at PVHS.
At PikeView High School
Princeton………….......013 000 0 — 4 9 4
PikeView………......…..700 002 x — 9 7 1
Southcott, Ferguson (1) and Wall; Harmon, Nash (4) and Moses. W-Nash, L-Southcott. HR: P-Culicerto