By CRAIG HALL
POTEAU—Poteau’s baseball team has struggled at times to hold on to leads early this season.
Saturday, the Pirates figured out the best way to keep the lead was to simply keep scoring runs as Poteau slammed Central in the final game of the Poteau Wood Bat Festival, 11-5.
One day after giving up a 5-0 lead in a 6-5 loss to Dickson, Poteau built an 8-1 lead which was cut to 8-5 after the top of the sixth inning.
The Pirates put Central away with three runs in the bottom of the sixth to even their record at 4-4.
With one out, Jace Pitchford got on when his grounder went through the legs of the shortstop. Pitchford stole a base, his fifth of the day, and moved over on a sacrifice bunt by Davey Bullard.
Pitchford scored on a passed ball and Wilson Klutts and Blake Roley each got on by walks. Michael Didway drove in Klutts with a single to right and Roley scored the final run on another passed ball to up the lead to six runs.
Kaydon Evans, who came on in relief in the sixth inning for Pitchford, allowed a pair of walks in the top of the seventh but nailed down the win to put Poteau back to .500 on the season.
Pitchford went the first five innings to pick up the win, allowed only two hits, one on a fly ball which was lost in the sun, struck out three and only walked one Central batter. Evans allowed only two hits, both in the sixth, to combine on a four-hitter for Poteau.
Poteau got on top early by scoring three runs in the first. The Pirates took advantage of some wildness and loaded the bases on three walks. With two outs, Evans drove a triple to deep right center to score Pitchford, Roley and Didway.
The Pirates added three more in the second. After one out, Jake McMillin sliced a double down the right field line. Pitchford followed with a single and Klutts drove in McMillin with another single.
Roley followed with a line drive off the left field wall for a double to score Pitchford and Klutts. The ball hit a couple of feet from the top of the fence, narrowly missing a home run.
After Central scored its first run in the top of the third, Poteau’s Stephen Smith got the run back with a solo home run to right, giving the Pirates a 7-1 lead.
The Pirates added another run in the bottom of the fourth without scoring a run. Pitchford walked to lead off the inning. The next three hitters all struck out, but Pitchford advanced to second on a wild pitch, stole third and scored when the Central catcher dropped a third strike and threw to first. Pitchford sped in and beat the throw for Poteau’s eighth run.
Central made things interesting by scoring a pair of runs in the fifth and sixth inning, only to see Poteau’s rally in the bottom of the sixth eliminate any doubt.
In addition to being the winning pitcher, Pitchford scored four runs for Poteau. Evans had three RBI while Roley had a pair.
Poteau is back in action Tuesday at Greenwood.