FLORENCE -- Derick Urquhart figured there was no need for him to ride his Florence Post 1 team too hard after its 3-0 loss to Beaufort Post 9 on Wednesday in the American Legion baseball playoffs.
The Ospreys' victory, which gave them a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series and put them a win away from the state tournament, was just one of those things Urquhart said he can't figure out.
"You coach long enough, you have games you can't explain," Urquhart said. "I was sitting there late in the game trying to figure it out. Did we do anything differently during batting practice? No. We did the same thing we did in a 13-run game last night. Nothing changed in batting practice. Our lineup was essentially the same. All you can do is credit their pitcher."
That's the most obvious explanation for Urquhart and anyone else who was watching at Legion Field.
Beaufort's Thomas Smith was spot-on with everything he threw. The right-hander used his fastball effectively enough, but it was a steady diet of curveballs and changeups that kept Florence's hitters frustrated, flailing and off kilter all night.
Smith gave up just five hits, struck out one and walked none. Three of the five hits came consecutively with two outs in the second, but he got Garrett Bevill to bounce into a 5-4 force play to leave the bases loaded. Florence's other hits were a first-inning double by Fonta James and a fourth-inning double by Keshaun Samuel.
After Samuel's double, Smith retired 13 in a row until left fielder Jesse Sanborn dropped a pop-up to start the bottom of the ninth. But a fielder's choice grounder and two more routine fly balls ended it.
"This team (Florence) is probably the best hitting team we've played this year," Smith said. "I was able to throw both my curveball and changeup for a strike, which really helped me. I used both sides of the plate and used my defense. My defense played a heck of a game and they were able to get me out of any jam I got in."
Florence lost the series opener to the Ospreys, 12-11 on Monday, but rebounded to win 13-1 in seven innings at Beaufort on Tuesday. Urquhart admitted after how Florence played Tuesday, and with Beaufort having a long bus ride to Florence, he didn't expect what he saw unfold Wednesday.
But the Ospreys (13-6) came out swinging against Post 1 starter Brian Davis. Sanborn's two-out bloop double in the first scored Alex Silon to give Post 9 a 1-0 lead.
Post 9 made it 3-0 in the third. Stephen Baggett singled home Silon, and Sanborn's second double, a shot into the left-field gap, plated Baggett.
That was more than enough for Smith, who got 14 fly ball outs and had two other easy pop-ups dropped for errors.
"We just came into this not thinking about their talent or depth," Smith said. "We're just trying to think about competing with anybody we face and not be intimidated. We fight and we scrap, and we came out on top tonight."
Said Urquhart, "We just kept hitting pop-up after pop-up after pop-up. And we did not make any adjustments. About the fourth inning, we warned them, stay out of the air. And nobody made any adjustments."
The fourth game of the series is set for 7 p.m. Thursday at Beaufort. If Florence extends the series, the teams will play at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Florence.