Eagles on the hunt for state title

Cam Bass (18), Tyler Tanner (6), Luke Martin and assistant Coach Brent Silvia celebrate Monday’s walk-off win at the plate. | Photos: Martha Ladd

WINNSBORO/EHRHARDT – Monday night’s matchup against Andrew Jackson Academy was one for the storybooks. Trailing the Confederates for almost the entire game, it looked to be a bleak ending for the Eagles in game one of the three-game SCISA 1A Semifinal series. In true hero fashion, sophomore Zack Taylor drove in the winning run with a walk-off double to give the Eagles the 4-3 win.

It was a pitcher’s duel kind of night. After three scoreless innings, the Confederates took control of the game in the fourth on some key Eagle fielding errors, scoring two on passed ball. With a 2-0 lead, the Confederates looked to be in the driver’s seat.

Luke Martin led off the bottom of the fourth with a single to right and scored off of Confederate fielding errors. The Eagles added two more base runners, but couldn’t plate any runs before ending the inning.

The 2-1 score remained until the Eagles took the field for the top of the seventh. Richard Winn quickly got the first two Andrew Jackson batters out. Then, a Confederate runner reached first on a dropped third strike. A fielding error on the next at bat scored a run to put Andrew Jackson ahead 3-1 heading into the bottom of the frame.

With one out looming, Hudson Wade singled on a ground ball to short that ignited the Eagles’ rally. Then, a strikeout left the Eagles with no outs to spare.

Taylor’s seventh inning double was his 13th of the season.

Martin reached first on an error by the shortstop, advancing Wade to second. Dru Caldwell reached base on an error from a fly to center that scored Wade and put Martin in scoring position. Brandon Miller followed with a line-drive single to center to plate Martin and tie the game at 3. Then Taylor blasted his sole hit of the night, a game-winning, walk-off double to left.

Taylor picked up the win on the mound for the Eagles, facing 29 batters in seven innings of work. He struck out eleven, allowing only one hit and three runs.

The Eagles took the 1-0 series advantage into Tuesday night’s rematch in Ehrhardt. The Eagles looked to be championship-ready. They took a decisive 5-1 win, punching their ticket to the title game and eliminating the Confederates from playoff contention.

Game two started off in similar fashion with three scoreless innings, but this time the Eagles took the lead and never relinquished it.

Austin Lancaster led off the fourth with a line drive double to right. Will Carvalho, courtesy runner for Lancaster, advanced to third when the Confederates made a fielding error from Jimmy McKeown’s ground to third. The Eagles loaded the bases with no outs when Hudson Wade was hit by a pitch. The next two Eagle batters followed with outs. Richard Winn looked to end the inning scoreless again until a shortstop error from Dru Caldwell’s grounder plated the Eagles’ first run of the night.

The Eagles struck again in the top of the sixth. McKeown led off with a walk. Wade put McKeown on second with a fielder’s choice, and John Russell followed with a single, putting runners on first and third. Martin plated McKeown on a line-drive double to right and landed Russell in scoring position at third. Brandon Miller gave the Eagles a 4-0 advantage with a two-out single to left, scoring Russell and Martin.

Andrew Jackson got on the board in the bottom of the sixth with a solo homerun to left, but a solid Richard Winn defense would not allow any more Confederate runs.

The Eagles added an insurance run in the top of the seventh when Cam Bass doubled to left, stole third and scored on a sacrifice fly to center from McKeown.

Wade picked up his fifth win on the mound for the Eagles with the 5-1 victory. He pitched a complete game, allowing only three hits and one run against 25 batters.

Martin and Lancaster each went 2-4 at the plate with a double.

Richard Winn’s sweep of the Confederates places them in the SCISA 1A State Championship series against Dorchester beginning Monday. Game one of the three-game series will be played at Dorchester, and the Eagles will host game two at Billy Ladd field on Tuesday. The third game, if needed, will be played on Thursday at a neutral site to be determined.

The Eagles look to repeat history as the baseball program claimed the SCISA 2A State Title in 2007 with a 2-0 sweep of Dorchester.

MONDAY: RICHARD WINN 4, ANDREW JACKSON 3

AJA – 0-0-0-2-0-0-1 – 3, 1, 6

RWA – 0-0-0-1-0-0-3 – 4, 4, 4

HITTING: RWA – 1B: Martin, Miller, Wade. 2B: Taylor. RBI: Miller, Taylor. AJA – 1B: Chen (1-3).

WP – Taylor 7.0 IP, 1H, 3R, 0ER, 11K, 1BB (RWA). LP – Bryce 6.2 IP, 4H, 4R, 0ER, 6K, 3BB (AJA).

TUESDAY: RICHARD WINN 5, ANDREW JACKSON 1

RWA – 0-0-0-1-0-3-1 – 5, 8, 0

AJA – 0-0-0-0-0-1-0 – 1, 3, 2

HITTING: RWA – 1B: Martin, Miller, Lancaster, Wade, Russell. 2: Lancaster, Bass, Martin. RBIs: Martin, McKe- own, Miller(2). AJA – 1B: Bryce, Colyn. HR: Brunson. RBI: Brunson.

WP – Wade 7.0 IP, 3H, 1R, 1ER, 1K, 1BB, 1HR (RWA). LP – Brunson 7.0 IP, 8H, 5R, 4ER, 3K, 1BB.