Cameron Stoltz had just watched a two-strike fastball flirt with the strike zone, and he couldn't pull the trigger. He was lucky to still be standing at the plate with the winning run just 90 feet away.
Then came another fastball, this one right down the middle.
"As I was swinging," Stoltz said, "it seemed like time stopped."
A few seconds later, Stoltz was at the bottom of a pile of Seahawks players near first base, and Hilton Head High's season was still alive after a 4-3 victory against Hartsville in the double-elimination Class 3-A district playoffs.
Never miss a local story.
The Seahawks (18-8) had to play from behind after giving up three runs in an ugly fourth inning in which they made three errors. But left-hander Sean Bartlett settled down after the rocky inning and shut out the Red Foxes the rest of the way.
"I felt like if we went into that last inning down one or down two, we could tie it up or win it," Seahawks coach Chris Wells said, "because they're teenagers playing against teenagers, and it's tough and everything tightens up when everything is on the line."
That's where the Seahawks found themselves going to the seventh, trailing 3-2 with the top of their lineup coming up.
Hartsville reliever Bradford Watford hit leadoff man Charlie Wilkins with the first pitch of the inning, and Watford's error on Michael Haven's bunt put runners at first and second with no outs, sending the Red Foxes to the bullpen again for Jon Wrenn.
Adam Orischak laid down another bunt, and Wrenn threw high to first base. Orischak initially was called out, but the call was reversed, prompting an argument that ended with Hartsville's head coach being ejected and loading the bases with no outs.
Kevin Hickey drew a bases-loaded walk to tie it, and after Storm Grisham struck out, Stoltz lined a 2-2 pitch into left field to score Haven with the winning run, setting off a celebration that erupted from the Seahawks' dugout and ended in a pile on top of Stoltz at first base.
Now the Seahawks hit the road for a rematch with Cane Bay, which handed them their first loss in the playoffs Saturday and swept two games in the regular season. The first game will start at 5:30 p.m., and if Hilton Head High wins, a second game will follow for the district title.
Wells said he will match up his ace, Stoltz, with Cobras ace Zach Wimmer, and senior Matt Brown will start the other game, if there are two.
Given their penchant for not allowing their season to end, the Seahawks plan on playing a doubleheader Wednesday.
"Having lost to Cane Bay a few times, we can't go out this season without going back up and facing them again," Bartlett said. "We're excited to see them twice, beat them twice, and keep moving on."
Hartsville 000 3000 0 -- 3 3 4
HHH 100 010 2 -- 4 6 3
WP: Sean Bartlett 7 IP, 3 R, 1 ER, 3 H, 5 BB, 7 K.
LP: Bradford Watford 2 IP, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 H, 1 BB, 0 K.
Top hitters: Hartsville -- Cody Mincey 1 for 2; Desmond Graham 1 for 3, run; Conner Johnson 1 for 3; Will Adams 0 for 3, RBI. Hilton Head High -- Charlie Wilkins 1 for 1, 2 runs; Michael Haven 1 for 2, RBI; Cameron Stoltz 2 for 4, RBI; Brandon Johnson 2 for 3.