Blue Flame win streak continues against Rams

By Bru Nimmons
Staff Reporter

PICKENS — After not managing a single hit through three innings, Pickens High School head baseball coach Matt Smith advised his team to be patient in the batter’s box against Region I-4A foe Westside on Monday night.

“We had to make them come to us and get a little bit wild,” Smith said. “When we get guys on base, we put pressure on the defense.”

That approach immediately paid off for the Blue Flame, picking up their first run on an RBI triple by Reid Smith in the fourth, and the pressure seemed to mount in the fifth when the Blue Flame stranded runners at second and third.

From there, it was a downward spiral for the Westside pitching staff as Pickens was able to score four more runs in the sixth on an error, a passed ball and two walks in a 5-2 win.

“That’s the way the last couple of games have gone for us, dogfights until the fourth or fifth,” Smith said. “We just find ways and our guys just keep battling. Some games that we may have lost in years past, we’re  finding ways to win those games now.”

Despite the lack of offense early on, the Blue Flame were able to stay in the game behind the arm of left-handed junior Aidan Stewart, but the game did not start in the junior hurler’s favor.

A leadoff four-pitch walk gave the Rams a runner early, and two batters later, Westside’s Noah Robinson drove home the run on single shot between shortstop and third. According to Smith, he was prepared to start warming up his bullpen, but Stewart had other plans.

“I knew I had to work my fastball more and more and get my curveball going,” Stewart said.

Stewart was electric the rest of the way and finished the night pitching 5 2/3 innings with seven strikeouts, two hits and the lone walk on the leadoff batter.

“He’s been lights out for the last three or four outings,” Smith said. “He’s won two games in a row for us and then came out and started the first region game tonight. Wasn’t pretty to start, but as soon as he settled in, he was almost unhittable. You can’t say enough about that kid.”

When Stewart was done on the mound, Blue Flame senior Ryan Ford took over, delivering four strikeouts and the save despite some late hiccups to cap off the 5-2 Pickens win.

The win gave the Blue Flame their third straight win to start the regular season, and more importantly a 1-0 start in region play.


Pickens 5, Westside 2

WHS 100 000 1 2 2 1

PHS 000 104 X 5 3 1


WP: Stewart 5.2 IP, 2H, 2R, BB, 7K

LP: Barbee 5 IP, 3H, 4R, 4BB, 5K

PHS: Smith 1-3, 2 RBI, 3B; Martin 0-1, 3BB, R.

WHS: Robinson 1-2, RBI, R; Telley 1-3.