North Pike masters Bulldogs
SUMMIT – As rivalries go, the North Pike-Franklin County feud isa classic.
Friday night the showdown both teams waited on all week, swungNorth Pike’s way off one momentum-turning swing. Jaguar catcherTyler Travis provided the clutch hit, a two-run homer in the bottomof the fifth inning to lead North Pike to an 8-5 come-from-behindwin.
“We lost a tough one,” said Bulldog headmaster Ed Zumbro Jr. “Areal tough one!”
The hard to stomach loss for the Bulldogs (9-6, 7-2) was theirfourth in a row to the Jaguars (12-3, 8-0) over the last twoseasons. Franklin dropped a tough 14-5 game to North Pike March 16,in Bude. “This was a big win for us, as far as clinching thedivision goes,” said North Pike field general George Lott III.
“Franklin County gave us a game. Until we got those big hits inthe fifth that controlled the game.”
Bulldog senior pitcher Will Buckels commanded Franklin’s attackby striking out five Jaguar batters in the game’s first threeinnings. Buckels frantic pace of fastball, change-up, fastball wasroutine in keeping the Jaguars in check.
“Will pitched an excellent game,” added Lott. “He can dominate agame, when he’s on. His fastball hit 84 miles-per-hour on our radargun.”
With Buckels throwing mid 80s heat, the Bulldogs took advantage.Franklin jumped out to a 2-1 lead after three innings of action,off a key ground rule double from Bulldog senior second basemanChase Evans. The hit scored Bulldog speedster Jasper O’Quinn fromsecond.
After a scoreless fourth, Franklin added another run off anEvans fielder’s choice. The infield grounder scored O’Quinn fromthird. O’Quinn reached third off a walk and two stolen bases. Histwo steals gave him 100 for his career.
“When they went up 3-1, I got nervous,” continued Lott.”Franklin County’s much improved since the last time we playedthem. They didn’t make as many errors as they did the first gameand they hit the ball better.”
With Franklin clicking and clinging to a 3-1 lead, North Pikebattled back. The Jaguars used a two-run RBI double from seniorCraig Dickerson to tie the game at 3-3 before Travis sent atowering Buckels fastball into right field for a 5-3 Jaguarlead.
North Pike added two more insurance runs in the inning off awalk for a 7-3 advantage. The Jaguars added their final run in thesixth for the final margin of victory.
“It was truly a team-effort tonight,” said Lott. “My guysbattled back, and I’m proud of that.”
Dickerson closed the game out for the Jags after starter JamesFloyd (6-1) allowed two Bulldog runs off a Baron Jones triple.Jones’ hit with two outs remaining in regulation sparked a Bulldogrally cry but Dickerson had the last laugh with a pivotalstrikeout.
“We never stopped,” said Jones. “We still feel we’re the betterteam, despite losing to them twice. Hopefully we’ll get anotherchance at them. We’ve both got the rest of the season and theplayoffs left.”
With the win North Pike clinched the district championship,Franklin County secured the runner-up spot despite losing. PortGibson holds a two game lead over Amite County and Hazlehurst forthe third spot.
“The playoffs should be interesting this year,” added Lott. “Thetop four teams go in the division this year and that means there’sa lot a baseball left to play.”
Lott’s Jags were led offensively by Travis with a single and ahomer for two RBI. Dickerson added a double and a single for threeRBI. Jeremy Lofton had two singles.
For the Dawgs, King led with two singles and a stolen base.O’Quinn added a double and two stolen bases. Evans finished with adouble and two RBI. Jones added a triple, a stolen base, and twoRBI.
On the mound, Buckels suffered the loss with six strikeouts. Hewalked four, allowed six hits, and four earned runs.
Collecting the win was Floyd with seven strikeouts. He allowedsix hits and seven walks for five runs.
The Jaguars resume play at Wilkinson County Tuesday at 3 p.m.while the Bulldogs host Hazlehurst in Bude at 5 p.m.