By Mark Anderson, Staff Reporter
Tarkington —The Shepherd Pirates began their quest for the 2016 state playoffs on Monday night when they turned the ship around behind the stellar relief pitching and timely hitting of Cody Crowder to sail away from Tarkington’s prairie with a rather impressive 11-6 win.
The game, originally scheduled for Tuesday, was pushed back to Monday because of what turned out to be an all-too-accurate forecast of the weather.
The game did not start off so well for the visiting Pirates. Josh Cronin started the game on the mound for the Pirates. However, 18 pitches and no outs into the second inning, Cronin had given up four runs. First-year coach Curtis Fox brought in Cody Crowder, an all-tournament selection at the Cleveland Rotary Club Tournament recently, to try and put out the fire on the prairie and the base paths.
Crowder put out the fire in the Longhorn bats. While Cronin had given up 4 hits in one-plus innings of work, Crowder got very stingy, and gave up only two hits the rest of the game.
Crowder’s pitching performance was, in a word, impressive. Crowder pitched 6 innings, giving up only two hits and two walks while corralling 10 Longhorns via the strikeout. Even more amazing was Crowder’s pitch count. It took only 84 pitches to put the Longhorns away.
With Crowder on the mound, the Pirates began to swing the lumber. Down 4-1, the Pirates rallied for 3 runs in the third inning to tie the game, and surged ahead in the fourth inning when they scored 4 more to go up 8-4. They added 2 runs in the top of the fifth inning to go up by a score of 10-4. The Longhorns got to Crowder for the first, last, and only time in the bottom of the fifth to make it 10-6, but the Pirates added another run in the top of the fifth to go up by what would prove to be the final score of 11-6.
The Pirates righted the ship with Crowder on the mound. He muzzled the bellowing Longhorn offense from the first pitch. Because of Crowder’s strong performance on the mound, in the middle innings the Pirates were able to turn it around and eventually sail away from the Longhorns. Crowder was again the key, going 2 for 3 with a double, a triple, 2 walks, and two runs scored on this evening.
This Pirate team, however, is exactly that—a team. While Crowder was instrumental, he could not have saved the ship from sinking in the first district matchup had it not been for his fellow Pirates. One who was a catalyst in this game was Lane Reeves. Reeves went 3 for 5 with 2 walks and 2 runs scored as well.
Another Pirate who contributed to the win on Monday was Colby Holloway. Holloway went two for two with two walks and a run scored, as well as two RBIs on this night. Royce See also made his presence felt with a triple, a walk, and two runs scored on the night, and in true “Pirate” fashion, he also stole a base.
Finally, Josh Cronin may have had a less than stellar outing on the mound, but did contribute at the plate, going two for three, with an RBI and a run scored. Trey Harper also contributed with a hit and a run scored.
With the win, the Pirates are now 8-4 for the season, including a 3-0 record on the road and 1-0 in district play. Both of those records will be tested on Tuesday night as the Pirates travel to Cleveland to face the Cleveland Indians, who have not had much good fortune this season. Their record coming into Tuesday night’s game is 1 win, 4 losses, and a draw. Game time in Cleveland Tuesday night is at 7 pm.