Pitching, defense lead the way for Saltillo to advance

By JIMMY ROGERS | News-Telegram Correspondent

May 7, 2007 - MOUNT PLEASANT - Saltillo senior pitcher Travis Thompson, backed by solid defensive play, limited the Simms James Bowie Pirates to two runs Saturday afternoon as the Lions downed the Pirates 7-2 to win the third game of a best-of-three series for the bi-district title at Chapel Hill.

�He is a heck of a leader,� Saltillo head coach T. G. Sandifer said of Thompson.

Sandifer had used Thompson earlier in the season but had limited his work at pitcher after his arm tired quickly. Saturday, Thompson showed little weariness as he refused to walk a batter. He faced 32 batters, striking out seven, including the final batter faced, and gave up 10 hits in his complete game.

The Lions took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. With one out, Pirate pitcher Micah Roach walked both Miles Payne and Nolan Gorman, who advanced bases on a wild pitch. Payne scored when Pirate catcher William Decker attempted a pick-off at third but threw the ball into left field instead. Roach struck out the next two batters ending the inning with Gorman on third.

�We got on them early and didn't let up,� said Sandifer. �We came out with a little more intensity. That as the best our guys have looked all year. They came around today and I think this is the first game we played together as a team.�

With one out in the fourth, Steven Mobley reached first on an error by the Pirate third baseman and then took second on a passed ball. Chase Carr rapped a single and both runners scored on wild pitches. The opportunity for more runs in the fourth ended with a Pirate pitching change.

Pirate pitcher Micah Roach faced 17 batters striking out five, walking three, giving up two hits and three runs in his three and one-third innings. Relief pitcher Zack Burns faced 18 Lion batters allowing four runs and six hits while striking out five and walking two.

Four Saltillo runs in the fifth inning served to ice the game. The first five batters of the inning, Payne, Gorman, Thompson, Mobley each singled and Carr doubled, supplying the hits that had been missing in the first two games of the series.

The Bowie Pirates attempted a rally in the sixth inning. With two on and one out, Pirate second baseman Justin Arsenault singled to drive in the two runs. He moved to second when the next Pirate batter grounded out to third. Thompson ended the inning with three straight strikes to Pirate catcher William Decker.

Sandifer said the game was won with “great defensive play and great pitching.”

The Lions advance to area play facing Price Carlisle in a best-of-three series. The games are tentatively set for Thursday and Saturday at Longview Pine Tree.

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