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[Photo by Donna Kennedy /]

Pirates head to championship!

At their double header May 16, the 2019 and the 2021 AAA State Champions faced each other in Zebulon with the Pirates sweeping the series in one night. The Pike County High School Pirates were the 2019 Champions and the North Hall Trojans held that title after 2021. Pike County advanced through a tough three-game series with Greater Atlanta Christian to get to the series. North Hall advanced to the GHSA AAA Final Four with a clean sweep of Harlem. The right to play for the championship was decisive at The Jack and it was only fitting that the last two state champions were on the field for the double header.  

“The victories on Monday brought the home schedule for the Pike County Pirates to a close, and what a way to close it out,” said coach Craig Chatman. “The four playoff series that took place at The Jack displayed one of the best high school baseball environments in the country. The Pirates looked to bring that environment to Cool Ray Field in Gwinnett on Monday, May 23 when they faced the Redan Raiders. Games one and two took place at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., unfortunately after the Pike County Journal Reporter’s press deadline. Game 3 was scheduled for Tuesday, May 24 at noon if necessary. 

In the first game against the Trojans, Pike’s Mason Trucks escaped early trouble and the Pirates failed to drive in runs early. Trucks, opposed by Trojans starter Jaret Bales, struggled through three innings, giving up two runs, three hits and hitting two batters. Beginning in the fourth inning, he began to find a grove and so did the Pirates offense. Braden Osbolt reached base on a bad hop single, and was able to score the first run of the game on a single to left by Ridge Smith but Caleb Hammond was thrown out trying to get to third base and the Pirates had to settle for one run to cut the lead in half. Trailing 2-1 heading into the top of the fifth inning, Trucks worked out of a mess again. As the game headed to the bottom of the fifth inning, all the flow and momentum was with the Pirates dugout. The Pirates dropped a four spot on the Spartans in the bottom of the fifth inning for a 5-2 lead. Mason Trucks drew a one-out bases loaded walk to tie the game, and Kaleb Hammond’s sacrifice fly put the Pirates up 3-2. Trucks threw a great sixth inning and Kole Hammond came on to close it out in the seventh for the Pirates’ 33rd win of the season and a 1-0 series lead.  

The first inning of game two was a thing of beauty for the Pike County faithful and the beginning of a nightmare for the North Hall dugout. Coleman Johnson led off the top of the first with a walk. Kole Hammond followed with a single to center and Braden Osbolt followed with a perfectly placed bunt hit. Trojans starter Hunter Brooks appeared to injure himself while attempting to field Osbolt’s bunt. Brooks stayed in the game and pitched to Mason Trucks. Trucks singled up the middle for a 2-0 Pirate lead, and that signaled the end of the day for Brooks. Landon Lee replaced Brooks on the mound and immediately got a fielders choice for out one. Lee then hit Caden Swift to load the bases and gave Ridge Smith a chance to blow the game wide open before North Hall had even come to the plate. Smith did just that by taking a 3-1 pitch deep over the centerfield wall for a Grand Slam and a 6-0 lead. Landon Davis replaced Lee for the Trojans. Lee was able to end the inning but not before two more runs had scored for an 8-0 Pirates lead. Osbolt then took the hill and hurled a complete game, allowing two runs (one earned) over seven innings. Osbolt was dominant again for the Pirates, and when the 21st out was recorded by Kole Hammond at shortstop, the Pirates were back in the State Title Series. 

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