Patriots win first Sunbelt League Championship
Story by James Vallone
SUWANEE, Ga. – The Sunbelt League Championship series second game saw the Sunbelt Patriots defeat the four-time defending champion Atlanta Crackers; 13-5. In the post game celebration, Eriq White was named MVP of the series on the heels of a 2-for-4 day at the plate including the go-ahead homerun.
INSIDE THE MATCHUP:
Score: Sunbelt Patriots 13; Atlanta Crackers 5
Series: Patriots win series 2-0 (best of three)
Location: Peachtree Ridge High School | Suwanee, Ga.
The Sunbelt Patriots (22-7) jumped on the scoreboard in the top of the first utilizing a two-run homerun off the bat of Austin Pharr for his seventh homerun of the season.
The Patriots added another run in the third inning on an RBI-single from Noah Hill to score Nate Stinson and chase the Cracker starting pitcher after 2 1/3 innings pitched. Channing Walker was charged with allowing all three runs as earned on three hits while walking one and striking out one.
A four-run third inning gave the Atlanta Crackers (19-9) the 4-3 advantage. The Crackers scored four runs on three hits during the inning. Romero Greer led off when he was hit by a pitch and stole second base. An RBI double off the bat of Jeremy Glore scored the first run of the inning. Cletis Avery was hit by a pitch before a single to centerfield from Kyle Jackson was able to plate Glore. A double steal from Jackson and Avery allowed Avery to score the third Cracker run. Brock Maxwell singled in Jackson for the final run before being retired trying to extend the single into a double.
With two runners aboard and no outs for the Patriots, Michael Mayuski (2-1) relieved Daniel Gooden as the Crackers pitcher and was able to shut the threat down without allowing a runner to advance. Gooden pitched 1 2/3 innings of relief of Walker striking out one batter and allowing no hits.
Glore led off the bottom of the fifth with a single and advanced to second on a base on balls to Avery. Jackson singled to left field but the first out of the inning was recorded as Glore was thrown out at the plate. Moon lined into a double play ending the inning.
The top of the sixth inning saw the Patriots put one run across the plate as Sam Galanek doubled with one out and score two batters later on a double from Tyler Adams that hit high off the wall in centerfield and ricocheted away from the defender.
The Patriots got an inning starting triple from Brent Richey and he scored a three-run homerun off the bat of Eriq White – his second of the year – for the 7-4 advantage. The Crackers threatened with runners on the corners and one out before an inning ending 5-4-3 double play ended the inning.
Casey Collins took to the mound for the Crackers to start the eighth as Mayuski threw three innings of four-hit baseball allowing four runs to score and was saddled with the loss. Collins was lifted after 2/3 of an inning four batters reached base with the big play coming off the bat of Richey. Richey singled to right field scoring Galanek and Adams before Richey was thrown out trying to stretch the hit to a double. Logan Hutchinson relieved Collins and with Hill at the plate he singled scoring Nate Stinson but the inning concluded to White caught in a rundown between second and third. The Patriots held the 11-4 advantage after the top of the eighth after scoring four runs on four hits.
In the bottom of the eighth the Crackers got back-to-back singles from Jackson and Moon to chase the Patriots starter Ryan Wesley. Wesley (5-0) pitched seven innings and gave up nine hits while five runs scored – all earned – and five strikeouts in the winning effort on the mound.
The Crackers added one run in the bottom of the eighth with Jackson scoring on an infield ground out for the fifth run of the night.
Adams added two more RBI with a double off the wall in left centerfield to score Pharr and Galanek capping the scoring for the patriots.
Jake Rogers pitched the final two innings for the Crackers to end the game. The ninth inning saw the Patriots retire the first two batters before a walk broke up the perfect inning. Rogers settled down after walking Glore on seven pitchers to shut down the game with a swinging strikeout of Avery.
The first three hitters in the Patriots lineup – White, hill, and Pharr – along with Galanek, Adams, and Richey each had two hits as the Patriots tallied 14 base hits in the game. Glore and Jackson turned in three-hit games for the Crackers in the losing effort.
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