As a team, PCS is not tearing the cover off the baseball right now, according to coach Jarrett Hoffpauir. However, the same cannot be said for Bobcat junior Layton Pitts. After a slow start to the season, Pitts worked his way back into the starting lineup and found his groove at the plate a few weeks back.
“He [Pitts] is our hottest hitter right now,” Hoffpauir said.
That hot streak was on full display Thursday in Game 2 of Bobcats’ first round playoff series with Oak Forest Academy. In the fourth inning of a scoreless game, Pitts knocked in two runs with a two-out double for the Bobcats, who went on to win 3-0 and sweep the three-game series.
“My first at-bat, I hit the ball in the gap, and the centerfielder ran to it because the wind was blowing kinda in,” Pitts said. “Second at-bat, I was like, ‘I’m gonna hit it hard on the ground somewhere’, and I guess trying to stay on top of the ball really cut the ball and let it go the other way.”
Pitts’ second at-bat provided more than enough run support for starting pitcher Holden Dykes, who continued PCS’ impressive stretch of pitching performances. Dykes went the distance while striking out seven and scattering three hits. It’s the fourth straight complete game from the Bobcat pitching staff.
Dykes and Jake Riley Gunn went the distance in a doubleheader sweep of Parklane Academy last week, while Jeffrey Diamond tossed a shutout against Oak Forest Academy in PCS’ 1-0 victory in Tuesday’s Game 1.
“You got three horses like that with Diamond, Dykes and J.R. [Gunn] on the back end, those guys can keep us in games and win some ballgames for us,” Hoffpauir said. “Anytime those guys are throwing strikes consistently, we feel like we can play with anybody.
“We gotta swing the bat a little better, but right now it’s working.”
Against Oak Forest, Dykes found himself in a few early binds. In the second inning, the Yellow Jackets had runners on the corners with only one out, but Dykes answered with two straight strikeouts to strand them. Two innings later, Oak Forest had a runner at third with one out, but two more strikeouts from Dykes kept the game scoreless.
“We’ve been told by one our coaches that when you get on the field, you’re the best one out there, and you gotta think that,” Dykes said. “If not, it’s not gonna work. So we just keep it in our head we’re the best one out there.
“It seems to work, so we’re gonna keep on doing it.”
In the bottom of the frame, Pitts gave PCS the lead with his aforementioned double, and Conner Martin followed with an RBI single to put the Bobcats up 3-0. Dykes then put together a handful of 1-2-3 innings as PCS picked up the win and completed the sweep.
After starting the season 0-6, the Bobcats are now second round bound having won eight of their last nine games.
“I kinda think about it like the Red Sox a couple years ago when they won the World Series,” Pitts said. “I think it was 2013 or something, and they got hot at the right time and won it all. I think we have that same potential to get hot now and win the whole thing.”
PCS will face MRA in the second round starting next Tuesday. The Patriots won the regular season series, 2-1, behind a doubleheader sweep in Jackson, but the Bobcats won the first game of the series in Hattiesburg on Mar. 26, 2-1.
“They [MRA] do all the things you need to do to win ballgames,” Hoffpauir said. “We’ll have our hands full, but we feel like we’re playing good right now. We’ll get after them and see what happens.”