The ball hasn’t bounced PCS’ way much in conference play this season, including Thursday night in game one of a varsity doubleheader against Jackson Academy. The Bobcats led 2-1 in the seventh inning of that one, only to allow two runs late and drop the contest, 3-2. In game two, they showed the necessary short-term memory and resolve to bounce back.
Down 4-2 in the fifth inning, the Bobcats rallied with three runs in the bottom of the frame to win the nightcap, 5-4, and improve to 2-7 in the conference with about two weeks left in the regular season.
Click the following link for a photo gallery of Thursday’s action: http://sports601.com/index.php/gallery-page-pcs-jackson-academy-baseball/
“It’s kinda been our norm in the past to, when things aren’t going well, fold up,” PCS coach Jarrett Hoffpauir said. “Tonight, we talked about not letting that happen. With a tough loss, we got two options: We can be content, or we can do something about it. We came out with energy in the first inning and second inning and continued for the next five.”
It started with Holden Dykes on the mound.
“Anytime he’s on the mound, we feel like we can beat anybody,” Hoffpauir said.
After Jackson Academy scored a run in the top of the first, Dykes answered with back-to-back 1-2-3 innings, including the second where he struck out the side. In the bottom of the frame, Nicholson Vance doubled home two Bobcat runners to give PCS the lead, 2-1.
In the fourth, the Raiders retook it, 3-2, as two runners came home on an infield error. They added another in the fifth and made it 4-2 after a PCS outfielder lost the ball in the lights. It didn’t take long for the Bobcats to answer, though.
With two on and nobody out in the bottom of the fifth, Collin Necaise stepped to the plate for PCS, and the freshman sent both runners home with a double to tie the game, 5-5. Necaise may only be a freshman, but he’s quickly making a name for himself at the varsity level. On Tuesday, he came off the bench against Jackson Academy and broke up a no-hit bid late in the game.
“He [Necaise] is swinging the bat right now, so we’re gonna give him the opportunity to be successful,” Hoffpauir said.
After Necaise, Blake Wilberding drove in a run with an RBI groundout to give the Bobcats a 5-4 lead, which was more than enough with Dykes on the mound and in control. In the sixth, the right-hander struck out the first two Jackson Academy batters he saw, and with a Raider baserunner on he got a groundout for the third out.
Entering the seventh, Dykes was at 100 pitches and 10 shy of the limit. He struck out two more to push his total to 10 Ks and then allowed a two-out single prior to reaching that limit and being replaced by Wes Walters, who got the final out of the game via an infield pop-up.
“To rebound and continue with some energy, that was big for us,” Hoffpauir said. “That was a step in the right direction, and we hope to continue it next week.”
Next week, the Bobcats will continue conference play against Oak Forest Academy. With all six teams in the conference guaranteed to make the playoffs, the rest of the way will be about positioning and seeding. At this point, finishing one or two and earning a first round bye appears unrealistic for PCS, but Hoffpauir isn’t getting too caught up in that.
“The good thing is, once you get to those playoffs, you never know,” he said. “You just try to play good at the right time, and I think we’re getting there.”
Jackson Academy 3, PCS 2 (Game 1)
PCS took a 2-1 lead in the fifth inning off RBI hits from Nicholson Vance and Brady Logan, but that lead would be short-lived. In the seventh, Jackson Academy scored twice to retake the lead, 3-2, and the Bobcats went down in order in the bottom of the frame in dropping game one.
Jeffrey Diamond went the distance on the mound for PCS.
“Jeffrey threw a great game,” Hoffpauir said. “Bottom line is we gotta score for him.”