Randleman tunes up for states with another special night

Randleman’s Braylen Hayes rips one of his two grand slams in the PAC Tournament title game against Trinity. (PJ Ward-Brown / Randolph Record)

RANDLEMAN – There were a few more highlights for Randleman’s baseball team before the Tigers get around to main event.

For the 25-win team, the state playoffs are about to arrive.

“There will definitely be pressure because it’s playoffs, one-and-done type deal,” center fielder Braylen Hayes said. “I feel we can overcome the pressure once we get out there.”

There were no nerves present for the Piedmont Athletic Conference Tournament, with the Tigers rolling to the championship. Hayes hammered two grand slams in Thursday night’s 16-0 trouncing of visiting Trinity in the tournament final.

The reigning Class 2-A state champions embark on the states with a home game Tuesday night.

“Obviously, we want to go back-to-back,” third baseman Hunter Atkins said. “But we have to take it a step at a time. … We wanted to win the regular-season conference (title) and we did. We wanted to win this (tournament). Now we’re going to states.”

The special moments kept coming for Randleman (25-1) as they continued their domination of the PAC.

Hayes provided a pair with two grand slams. The blasts came in consecutive innings, both to center field.

“The first one I capped. I thought it was a flyout,” Hayes said. “That second one, off the bat, it felt so good.”

Hayes has 13 home runs, trailing only catcher Brooks Brannon, who has 16, among the Tigers.

It began with Atkins lofting a two-run home run down the left-field line in the first inning before Trinity recorded an out. Atkins added a ground-rule double and a bases-loaded walk in the next two innings. Atkins and Trey Way both scored for runs.

Ryan White has hit one homer, but that’s notable as well. His line drive in the fourth inning barely cleared the right-field fence, giving one of Randleman’s top pitchers his first home run in high school competition.

White was the designated hitter Thursday night. He left the pitching to Drake Purvis, who was spot-on.

The left-hander took a no-hitter into the fifth inning before Ethan Willard’s one-out single broke up the no-hit bid. Purvis ended up with a two-hitter with one walk and 11 strikeouts.

The Tigers batted in only four innings, posting multiple runs in each of those.

“I’d rather it be like that than too close,” coach Jake Smith said.

The Tigers outscored second-place Trinity by a combined 41-3 in three meetings this season.

Trinity (17-9), which had a five-game winning streak snapped, also will be in the Class 2-A state playoffs.

Randleman might be primed for another postseason run.

“That’s what we’ve been working for,” Atkins said. “In the offseason and now, that’s what we’ve been waiting on.”

It’s here.

By Bob Sutton