Screven’s Gamecocks plated four in the seventh, but left the tying run on third in the inning as they fell to visiting Jeff Davis 8-7 in the rubber game of the best of three series to open the Class AA state playoffs. The Yellow Jackets, who ousted the Gamecocks for the second consecutive season, will face number one ranked 1AA champion Cook County on May 12.
“Right now I don’t know what to say,” said SCHS coach Billy Pollock after the loss. “All you can ask is to have a chance to win or tie in the last inning, we had that chance.”
Down 8-3 in the seventh, the Roosters, who again occupied the visitor’s position on the scoreboard as they had in game two, put together their biggest inning of the game. The top of the order up, Auston Peel beat out an infield single before Joel Collins lined a hit to left field. Jonathan Long’s possible double play grounder was booted at short. Daniel Griffin followed and made Jeff Davis pay with a bases clearing triple. Chandler Johnson, who had a mammoth homer in the second sent a long fly-out to center to plate Griffin.
Now down 8-7 Duane Heindel legged out a double and, after a fly-out, reached third on passed ball. A grounder to first ended the game.
“I am really proud of the way the kids battled back in that last inning,” continued Pollock. “We had a very bad inning in the sixth [Jeff Davis plated four of their own on five hits and an error] but we did not hang our heads, we came out in the seventh and almost pulled it out.”
Fans of either side, who spent the day disagreeing with balls and strikes, also spent the day frustrated at the missteps and mistakes by their respective teams. Through five innings the Jackets led 4-2 but had squandered opportunity after opportunity to possibly put the game out of reach. Over those inning Jeff Davis picked up four hits, took seven walks and three hit batsmen off SCHS starter Long.
Before the day was over the Gamecocks allowed their guests to score on three wild pitches, another on a passed ball and yet another on an error receiving a throw in the infield. They were also 2-8 with runners in scoring position. “I don’t think we adjusted to the first pitcher [Jesse Deats, who lasted into the seventh], “said Pollock.
Pollock also added “I really think that injuries hurt us in the series.”
For SCHS starting pitcher Long made his first start since April 9 when he broke two bones in his hand. Leading hitter Dalton Mills (.488, 29 rbi) was lost for the series when he was hit in the head and knocked unconscious pitching in Wednesday’s practice. “Still, I am not making excuses,” Pollock said.
The top six hitters in the Gamecock order combined for all ten of the team’s hits led by Heindel’s three and Johnson’s pair. In the series Johnson recorded six hits as did Peel and Collins. SCHS finishes the season at 17-11.