There was no second-guessing Saturday afternoon for Bryan Lewallyn and Erik Armstrong.
Armstrong -- USC Beaufort's star designated hitter -- stood at second base with his Sand Sharks trailing Brewton-Parker by two runs in the eighth inning. Dylan Nasiatka, representing the tying run, stood 90 feet away at first.
The Sand Sharks looked as though they were about to pull within a run of their non-conference rivals, as Gabe Torres sent a two-out single through the right side of the infield as Armstrong was preparing to round third.
But Joshua Palmer was having none of that.
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The Barons' right fielder fired a bullet home to catcher Kelvin Espinosa, who applied the tag on Armstrong for a controversial out at home plate. The play killed the Sand Sharks' rally and helped propel the Barons to a 4-2 victory, spoiling USCB's home opener at the Richard Gray Baseball Complex.
"Tough teams like that, our best chance of winning was taking risks. We did," Armstrong said. "It's going to pay off in the end. We need to be the aggressive team that we are."
Lewallyn, the Sand Sharks' interim head coach who waved Armstrong home, agreed.
"He's got to field it cleanly, come up and make a good throw. Then the catcher's gotta handle it," Lewallyn said. "They did all those things. Then it's in the umpire's hands. Had he gotten to the ball quicker, maybe we would have held him up. I wouldn't second-guess that call."
What he did second-guess was the call at the plate. Lewallyn thought he saw Armstrong's hand touch the plate before Espinosa applied the tag, and that the umpire's view of the play might have been blocked.
"I just asked him if he got a good look at it. He said he did," Lewallyn said. "I thought I had a pretty good look at it from where I was, too. I just let him know that I disagreed with him."
Armstrong, who was 3 for 4 with an RBI, believed the Sand Sharks would have come out on top had the call gone in their favor.
"It could have gone either way," he said. "If that fell through we probably could have won the game."
The putout at home capped a frustrating pair of innings for USCB (1-1). A frame earlier, Ty Main -- the hero of Friday's 2-0 win over Brewton-Parker -- lifted a hard-hit ball to center field with runners in scoring position. A base hit would have evened things up at 4 runs apiece, but Barons center fielder DeMontez Jones tracked down the ball with a running grab.
"We were right where we wanted to be," Lewallyn said. "Ty Main hit a rocket right at their center fielder with guys in scoring position. Can't swing the bat any better."
The defensive plays helped Joel McLaughlin pick up his first win of the season for the Barons (1-1). The 6-foot-4 right-hander fired six innings of three-hit, one-run ball while adding five strikeouts.
The junior felt like he had everything working -- particularly his curveball and change-up -- and located most of his pitches for strikes.
"I felt amazing," McLaughlin said. " ... Our coach just told me to get ahead and pound the zone and I'll be fine."
Adam Miller took the loss for the Sand Sharks, as the senior allowed four runs in five innings. Fernando Frias got the Barons on the board with a first-inning sacrifice fly before Miller departed after a three-run, fifth-inning outburst. The Barons loaded the bases with no one out before Jones brought home a run on a double play to push the Brewton-Parker lead to two. Shortstop Joseph Taylor then followed with a two-run single to right that proved to be the difference.
"The goal is to stay up, stay positive and come back," Armstrong said. "We're a team that's going to keep fighting back either way."
USCB returns to action Wednesday when it opens up a four-game series with Mid-Continent (Ky.).
Brewton-Parker 4, USCB 2
Ave Maria 100 030 000 -- 4 5 1
USCB 000 001 100 -- 2 8 2
WP: Joel McLaughlin (1-0) 6 IP, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 H, 0 BB, 5 K.
LP: Adam Miller (0-1) 5 IP, 4 R, 4 ER, 5 H, 2 BB, 4 K.
Top hitters: Brewton-Parker -- Joseph Taylor 2 for 4, 2 RBIs. USCB --Erik Armstrong 3 for 4, RBI