Post 284 Pirates Put It All Together In Win
By Ryan Lazo, sports editor
Jul 9, 2014, 09:52
Darius Gillus scored the Pirates' first run after a 10-pitch battle resulted in a single.
COLONIAL HEIGHTS — For much of the season, offense has been the struggle for the Post 284 Pirates and it looked to be much of the same issues as they faced the Post 284 Bucs in a rivalry match. The Pirates sent just 10 hitters to the plate over the first three innings, pounding pitches into the dirt or hitting hard-hit liners right at a Bucs' fielder.
It looked like it wasn't going to be the Pirates night until Darius Gillus waged a personal war against Bucs' starting pitcher Rashad Stewart. With his team recording just one hit over the first three innings, Gillus went up to the plate with an intent to battle and get on base anyway he could.
The L.C. Bird product quickly found himself in an 2-2 hole, but it did not faze him. Gillus promptly choked up on the bat and wasted pitch after pitch from Stewart. Then, on the 10th pitch of the at-bat, Gillus lined an opposite-field single to get the inning started. It was the jump-start the Pirates needed as Austin Gammon followed with a single before Maurice Gothe drove in Gillus on a sacrifice fly to tie the game.
Just one inning later, the Pirates took the lead and full control. Once again, it was Gillus battling Stewart to work a bases-loaded walk to give his team the lead. The 2-1 advantage was more than enough for Pirates' starting pitcher Tommy Barron while the offense would tack on two more runs over the course of the game.
As Michael Domowicz recorded the final outs on the mound to earn the save, the Pirates looked to the scoreboard and saw a 4-1 win, highlighted by timely hitting, great pitching and solid defense. The formula was there for everyone to see and after the game manager Gilbert Baber had nothing but praise for Barron's effort on the mound.
"He stepped up big for us tonight," Baber said of Barron's 7-inning, one-run, four-hit and five-strikeout gem. "He's a low-strike pitcher and gets a lot of ground balls ... he's a really good pitcher. He couldn't have stepped up any more than he did."
Baber wasn't just throwing out undeserved compliments either. Barron was in top form with only a momentary blip in the 2nd inning in which the Bucs pushed across one run on three hits. Throughout the rest of his outing, the Bucs grew frustrated they could not line up his fastball and were kept off-balance with a tight-slider and diving change-up.
In fact, 15 of the 21 outs Barron recorded were either by strikeout or groundout, showcasing the type of dominance he showed. But he was not the only one who stepped up in the absence of some key players.
It seems in every game, Gammon does something which may go unnoticed to some, but is a key reason the Pirates win the game. With Barron in a 2nd inning jam with runners on second and third, Gammon gunned down Daniel McKenney attempting to steal to end the inning.
In the following inning, Gammon did it again. With two outs and Grant Boyd at the plate, Grayson Trower attempted to swipe second base, but he too, was gunned down by the Virginia Wesleyan product. Two potential rallies halted by a catcher who is showing his worth during each game.
Tommy Barron tossed seven innings of one-run ball in a dominating effort on the mound.
"I've said it every game. It's that leadership," Baber said of Gammon. "He has the passion for baseball. Some of the other kids like playing baseball, but I don't think they love it like he does. He really shows the difference."
But perhaps the real difference in the game came down to the play of Gillus at third base.
While Gammon is a loud and vocal leader for the Pirates, Gillus is the complete opposite. He's a mild-mannered leader who focuses on the task at hand and does what's needed to win the game. It's why it was no surprise to Baber it was the L.C. Bird product completing the epic 10-pitch at-bat and scoring the Pirate's first run.
However, discussing his offensive ability would be only part of the story. Gillus also flashed some big-time leather at the hot-corner, especially in the 9th inning on rockets hit by Seth Markins and Jamison Trower.
Markins' blast made Gillus range to his left before firing toward first for the out, but Trowers' liner made the two-sport athlete show off all of his skills. The L.C. Bird product showed off great reactions to range toward his right, made a semi slide to deal with a tough hop and made a 180 degree turn before firing a bullet to first. His play and leadership impressed his manager.
"I tipped my hat to his mom after he made those two defensive plays over here," Baber said. "He's a leader ... You can see the difference he can make. You can put him anywhere."
Corey Anderson's hot-hitting continued as he blasted a two-run homer in the 7th inning to put the game out of reach.
But no one could have predicted the return of Corey Anderson would have had as much as an impact as it has. Anderson has been red-hot since recovering from his injury and it continued with a two-run blast in the 7th inning to put the game firmly in the Pirates' hands.
And the win was more important to the Pirates than just capturing a bragging rights win over the Bucs. It meant a lot to the team mentally to do win without the big three of C.J. Henderson, Nathan Eaton and Collin Fleischer. The more production Baber receives from the rest of his team, the more options he has moving forward as the team heads to the playoff tournament in a few weeks.
"A few weeks ago when we were on that losing streak, people questioned why I was substituting so much. I had to prepare these kids for when others aren't here," Baber said. "Our practice is between the lines, so we need to make the mistakes here. Now we've won two of three without the starters and we're starting to gel."
Pitching, defense and timely hitting led to a big win for the Pirates. With a formula in place, more options for a Baber and a team starting to gel, the Pirates have become a scary team to face over the season's final few weeks.