Wednesday, February 21, 2018

ET Baseball: Tournament host Pine Tree falls to Pleasant Grove

George Whitley

By George Whitley
Feb. 25, 2017 at 10:51 p.m.

A five-run fourth inning turned a 7-3 deficit into an 8-7 lead for the Pleasant Grove Hawks.

The Hawks were able to tack on an all-important insurance tally in the fifth, paving the way to a 9-7 win over the Pine Tree Pirates Saturday at the Field of Dreams Tournament.

With the victory, Pleasant Grove advanced to Saturday night's championship. The Hawks (3-1) were to play Carthage, which defeated Liberty-Eylau in the other semifinal, 5-4.

Pine Tree, as it had done its last two contests, rallied from an early deficit to take the lead. This time the Pirates didn't wait around until the fourth to get busy.

PG opened with a three-spot in the top half of the first frame. The Hawks did so with the benefit of just one hit and a Pirate error.

Lead off man Keaton Russo was plunked by PT starter Pokey Best and took first. He stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch.

Best regrouped and got the next two PG batters on called third strikes. A passed ball enabled Russo to touch home for the first run of the game.

Carson Cox worked a two-out walk and eventually moved all the way around to score run number two on a throwing error.

Tyler Jeans, like Cox, drew a free pass and would score on an infield single off the bat of PG starting pitcher Will Hlavinka.

The Pirates did nothing in their initial at bat and Best set the Hawks down in order in the top half of inning two.

Best opened the bottom of the second by taking one for the team on an offering from Hlavinka. Daylon Bearden and Hunter Greenlee managed walks to load the bases.

With one out recorded in the books, Cade Hardin reached on an error at shortstop, which allowed both Bearden and Greenlee to come across.

The fun was just beginning as right fielder Konnor Johnson drove a RBI double to left field and allowed Hardin to score the game-tying run.

Shaffer Russell's base on balls was followed by Harris reaching on an error at first. The fielding miscue profited Johnson, who had reached third on a wild pitch.

PT's lead hit 5-3 when Russell legged it home after Hayden McAfee grounded out 1-4-3. A.J. Brown's run-scoring single to right center plated Harris and allowed the Bucs to double up the Hawks, 6-3.

All totaled in the second, Pine Tree collected six runs on two hits and three Hawk errors.

Bearden got a walk to start the third and would score on Johnson's run-scoring ground out back to the mound. This gave the Pirates a 7-3 lead after three.

The Hawks sent 11 to the dish in the fourth as the wheels came off for the Pirates. Hlavinka, who was one of six to be hit by pitch, started the onslaught.

Nathan Brinkley followed by slapping a shot to center. With one out, Jackson Cobb was clipped by a pitch to load the bases.

Russo's walk pushed across Hlavinka from third. Heath Ferguson followed by getting plunked and Brinkley was able to stroll home.

Caleb Bolden's double to right field was good enough to chase both Russo and Ferguson across and give the Hawks their first lead since the opening frame.

PG pinch-hitter Cade Thompson singled and scored on a passed ball in the fifth for an all-important insurance tally.

Pine Tree (2-2) returns to play Thursday in Kilgore's Oil Belt Classic against Athens.

(Follow George Whitley on Twitter: @GPigskinprof)



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