E.A. Sports Today

Errors costly to Bulldogs

Seven errors doom Piedmont in winner-take-all third game with Winfield

Piedmont's Peyton Whitten (L) is greeted by Taylor Hayes after scoring a run in the Bulldogs' 3A quarterfinal loss to Winfield Saturday. (Photo courtesy of Shannon Fagan/Cherokee County Herald)

Piedmont’s Peyton Whitten (L) is greeted by Taylor Hayes after scoring a run in the Bulldogs’ 3A quarterfinal loss to Winfield Saturday. (Photo courtesy of Shannon Fagan/Cherokee County Herald)

By Shannon Fagan
Cherokee County Herald

PIEDMONT — James Blanchard can’t recall the last time his Piedmont baseball team made almost as many errors as it scored runs in a game.

The Bulldogs made seven errors that led to nearly a dozen unearned runs and helped Winfield to a 22-8 victory in the decisive third game of their Class 3A state quarterfinal series.

The win sends the Pirates (29-13) to the state semifinals against defending champion Madison Academy. The loss ends Piedmont’s season at 22-10.

“It just wasn’t our day today,” Blanchard said. “They’re a good team, and you can’t take anything away from them. They hit the ball well, but I don’t think we’ve made that many errors this whole season.”

Five of the errors came in the first 2 1/2 innings, producing a 10-0 lead and chasing starter Bayley Blanchard from the game. Blanchard was charged with seven runs, but only one was earned.

“We had an opportunity to pitch well today, but we just made too many errors to start with,” Coach Blanchard said. “It just kind of progressed as the day went along. I think our pitchers threw the ball well, but you can’t make that many errors.”

The Bulldogs showed some signs of life at the plate in the bottom of the third inning. They loaded the bases with no outs and scored three runs. Peyton Whitten and Taylor Hayes had RBI singles and Easton Kirk had a sacrifice fly.

Winfield extended its lead to 14-3 in the fourth inning, but the Bulldogs battled back with five in the bottom of the inning, highlighted by Whitten’s bases-loaded triple. Whitten went 3-for-4 with four RBIs.

“I was proud of the guys for fighting back,” Blanchard said. “We could have just packed it in, but they fought back and scored all those runs. That’s just the type of character the kids have here at Piedmont. That’s why I love them.”

Winfield added single runs in the fifth and sixth to push their lead to 16-8, then added six in the seventh. Logan Bradford and Kyle Nixon both drove in five runs for Winfield.

The game marked the final time Whitten, Lusk, McCord and Cory Patigayon took the field for the Bulldogs. Blanchard called them a “great senior group” that he was going to miss.

“That’s a lot of hits, a lot of strikeouts in pitching, and some unbelievable gloves,” he said. “You lose that kind of talent, it’s tough to replace them.”

Blanchard also commended his team for making it as far as it did this season.

“We faced some adversity about a quarter of the way through the season,” he said. “Easton got hurt with his knees, and we had to take him out. About halfway through the season, we had two starters out of the lineup. This team could have laid down, but they didn’t. They played through and made the quarterfinals.

“Most teams, when they’d have lost that many kids, you pretty much don’t make the playoffs. I told them this is the best team I’ve coached in my life, just for the simple fact when you lose that much talent and you have to move people around like we did, and you still do what they did, hands down it’s the best team I’ve ever coached.”

Shannon Fagan is sports editor of the Cherokee County Herald.

Winfield 22, Piedmont 8

Winfield 046 411 6 — 22 17 2
Piedmont 003 500 0 — 8 9 7

WILL HARRISON and Cody Roberts; BAYLEY BLANCHARD, Tyler Lusk (3) and Derrick Baer. 2B: Kent Jenkins 2 (W), Jake Elkins (W), Cody Roberts, Kyle Nixon 2 (W), Tyler Lusk. 3B: Peyton Whitten. WP: Harrison. LP: Blanchard.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login