Pinewood Christian Academy senior Taylor Lewis excelled on both offense and defense in the Patriots’ 1-0 thriller over Bulloch Academy in a key GISA Region 4-AAA contest Thursday.
On defense, the right-hander gave up just two hits and struck out 10 BA batters. On offense, he blasted a solo homer in the third inning that proved to be the winning run.
"He had good stuff on the mound," said PCA head coach Zach Rackett. "I thought he was a little more erratic and not as sharp as he has been. But he’s a competitor. I thought we hit the ball well but not in key situations. Still, I am happy with the way we swung the bat. Anytime Bulloch and Pinewood play, it’s gonna be interesting and fun."
Earlier in the season, Bulloch achieved a 1-0 victory over the Patriots in Bellville. Lewis was on the mound for that game and actually no-hit the Gators but PCA errors allowed BA to slip away with the win.
Lewis, who has committed to Chipola College in Marianna, Fla., breezed through the Bulloch lineup for three innings before giving up a hit. BA junior Jarret Humphries blasted a liner to left to lead off the fourth but was stranded at second.
In the top of the fourth, it looked as if the Patriots (5-5 overall and 3-3 in region play) would break the game wide open when Gator starter Chris Young issued back-to-back free passes. Smith Reeves came on in relief and both PCA runners immediately executed a double steal.
But with runners on second and third, Reeves calmly pitched out of the Patriot threat, as the BA defense backed him up. The freshman fanned the final batter to get out of the inning. In the fifth, the Gators (6-5, 2-5) turned a double play to stifle another Pinewood threat.
Young was tagged with the loss, having served up Lewis’ home-run ball in the third. The senior pitched three innings plus and allowed just two hits but walked six.
In the sixth, it was Bulloch’s turn do some threatening.
Loy Waters led off the inning, reaching second on a dropped third strike and subsequent overthrow at first. Humphries hit a one-hopper to PCA shortstop Luke Callaway, who turned and fired to third baseman Joseph Kennedy to get Waters on a tag. Forrest Spence loops a soft liner over short but the athletic Callaway races back and robs Spence of a single. Hunter Jacobs bounces out to second to end the inning.
"Luke had a tough defensive game on Tuesday," said Rackett. "Yesterday, he came to practice and competed. Today, he did the same thing. He just stepped up on back-to-back plays when we needed him to."
In the bottom of the seventh, Bulloch threatened again.
Erik Renew ripped a hot shot down third-base line which hopped over Kennedy’s glove. Clay Reed laid down a pretty bunt but it was back to the mound. Lewis fielded and fired the ball to Callaway at second to force Renew for the first out. Reed then was picked off at first for the second out. Harrison Averitt beat out an infield hit and stole second but Reeves struck out to end the game.