Bottom of the lineup, Johnson powers Purvis over PCS

PURVIS – Purvis head coach Tony Farlow entered Tuesday night worried about the bottom of his batting lineup, but he left Purvis’ game with PCS happy with those players after the Tornadoes earned a 4-0 win over the Bobcats.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, the 6-7-8-9 hitters helped Purvis jump up 4-0, as it put up a 3-spot on the scoreboard to grab control of the tight game.

“We were a little bit concerned about whether the bottom of the lineup was going to be able to contribute,” Farlow said. “I think the inning we scored three runs, most of that came from the bottom of the lineup. We have to have some of that. Our big guys are going to hit at times, but they’re not going to hit every game.”

Sophomore and six-hole hitter Casey Burge doubled to right field, then sophomore Parker Shariff singled to score Burge. The eighth hitter in the lineup, junior Nathan Lott, reached on an error by the PCS pitcher, then nine-hole hitter, sophomore Mason Kendrick, hit a sacrifice fly to center to bring home another run and give Purvis a 3-0 lead.

Senior Riley Guera finished off the scoring by reaching on an error to score Lott.

With the 4-0 lead, freshman Jesse Johnson continued to impress on the mound. He started the night with three straight 1-2-3 innings while Purvis held the slim 1-0 advantage, then he pitched around an early error in the fourth, a single in the fifth and the bases loaded in the sixth to preserve the shutout.

“Jesse is a special athlete,” Farlow said. “He’s a freshman and I don’t know if we have any other pitchers who could have made the plays he made to get us out of (the sixth) inning.”

With the bases juiced in the sixth, Johnson covered home after a passed ball to get the first out, fielded the ball with his bare hand to get the runner trying to score for the second out and he covered first base for a 3-1 putout to end the threat.

Johnson allowed only four hits in his six innings of work and he had zero walks.

“He did a really good job for us,” Farlow said. “He’s showed signs that he could be one of our top pitchers and I think there’s no doubt about that.”

The Tornadoes also got out of another bases loaded jam in the top of the seventh. With only 1 out, Purvis turned a 6-4-3 double play to end the game and move its record to 2-1 on the young season.

“It feels like we dodged a bullet a couple of times,” Farlow said. “PCS always plays us tough every time we play them, and we were fortunate to get out of some of those innings without giving up a run.”

PCS started sophomore Jeffery Diamond on the bump, and he finished with four innings of five-hit ball and he gave up four runs – two earned – with two walks. John Driskell finished the final two innings and he allowed zero runs on zero hits with two strikeouts.

Diamond allowed an early run in the first inning, but settled down until the tough fourth.

“I thought (Diamond) did well,” PCS head coach Kyle Maxie said. “He got out of it early in the first, then we had that inning when they scored the three runs right there. His biggest thing is he has to stay composed within himself, not try to outthink himself and execute the pitches.”