High School Baseball

Hilton Head Prep sweeps its way into SCISAA baseball semifinals

Pitching guides Dolphins past Florence Christian

ccox@islandpacket.comMay 3, 2013 

As his teammate walked back to the Hilton Head Prep dugout Friday, angry over the double play he had just rolled into, Jake Martin made sure to be there for support.

"Throw it! Throw it!" Martin urged his teammate to chuck his bat, ribbing him along with his fellow Dolphins.

Little seems to affect the Dolphins these days. They call themselves just a loose group of kids that like to play the game, with Martin spearheading the charge in dugout shenanigans.

"He's the king of those nuts in the dugout," coach Lew Kent said. "He's the kingpin. He's a very loose, confident player. He's played a lot of baseball.

"He's a heady player and the leader of this team."

Martin led his Dolphins off the field and on it Friday, registering a 4-for-6, three-RBI performance at the plate while picking up the decisive save in a doubleheader sweep of visiting Florence Christian School in the second round of the SCISAA Class 3-A tournament.

For good measure, Prep's senior standout added a good bit of chirping from the rail as he cheered on his teammates.

"It's awesome, I love it," said Martin, who transferred to Prep from Bluffton High School. "It's a great environment. The team is awesome. The chemistry with these guys, it's amazing. Coach Kent even said he's never had a team that's played so well together."

While the group's chemistry draws most of the praise these days, it was pitching and defense that powered the Dolphins to next week's semifinals. Martin teamed with starting pitchers Greg Warren and Tyler Fox to limit the Eagles to just a pair of runs -- both unearned -- in 14 innings of work.

It was the left-handed Warren who got things started. The junior fired a complete-game shutout in the 6-0 opener thanks in part to a sweeping curveball few Eagles could touch.

Warren scattered four hits in the win while striking out six, as Florence Christian saw just one runner reach third base.

"One thing we've always been good at this year as a staff is we just go right after the batter," he said. "We don't try to pitch around, we don't try to make them swing. We just go and let them hit the ball. WIth the defense we have, we've been able to be successful."

Fox followed it up in the second game, pitching a shutout into the sixth inning before a pair of defensive miscues brought home the only two runs of the day for the Eagles. He got the only three runs of support he would need in the first, when Martin brought home Kevin Campbell with an RBI single, John Sheehan scored on a misplayed ball in the outfield, and Martin scored on a passed ball.

Martin headed to the mound six innings later for a perfect seventh inning, registering the save in the 3-2 victory.

"Tyler Fox is just a freshman, and he's a fiery competitor," Kent said. "He's got pretty good stuff and he throws strikes. Warren ... doesn't quite have the same kind of stuff but has pitched extremely well this year."

The Dolphins begin the semifinal series Tuesday at Sumter's Wilson Hall, trying to reach the state championship series for the first time. Kent was unsure how his pitching rotation would be laid out for that series.

Regardless, whoever sits for the opener undoubtedly will be there chirping along from the bench. That much is certain.

"They're very loose," Kent said. "It gets a little bit too loose at times for my taste, because I'm an old-school guy. But these kids, they love to play."

Game One

Florence Christian 000 000 0 -- 0 4 2

Hilton Head Prep 020 301 X -- 6 11 0

WP: Greg Warren 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 6 K.

LP: Adam Martin 6 IP, 11 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 3 K.

Top hitters: Florence Christian -- Matthew Wilson 1 for 3; Luke Sterling 1 for 3; Adam Hill 1 for 3; Hunter Eason 1 for 2, BB. Hilton Head Prep -- Jake Martin 3 for 4, 2B, 2 RBIs; Kevin Campbell 2 for 3, 2 RBIs; Randy Young 2 for 3, 2B, BB, RBI; Cole Gardocki 2 for 2, 2B, BB.

Game Two

Florence Christian 000 002 0 -- 2 4 1

Hilton Head Prep 300 000 X -- 3 5 2

WP: Tyler Fox 6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 3 K.

LP: Luke Sterling 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 3 HBP, 2 K.

Top hitters: Florence Christian -- Matthew Elliott 1 for 2, BB, RBI; Luke Sterling 1 for 2, BB, R; Chris Smith 1 or 3, R. Hilton Head Prep -- John Sheehan 2 for 3, R; Jake Martin 1 for 3, RBI; Marcus Hindall 1 for 3, 2B; Randy Young 1 for 3.

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