Chance Murphy summed up Bluffton's critical win over Hilton Head Island High as simply as he could.
"We needed that win," he said.
The sophomore kept the Bobcats' playoff hopes alive Wednesday, as the right-hander allowed just one earned run in six-plus innings of work in a 5-4 victory over the rival Seahawks. Win the win, Bluffton wraps up its Region 7-AAA slate with a 5-5 mark and must now sit back and watch Battery Creek take on Hilton Head High Friday night.
The Bobcats need the Seahawks to claim a win in their finale or they'll be forced to watch the playoffs from the stands.
"We knew what was at stake if we didn't win this game," Murphy said. " ... My mindset was 'Go the distance and win the ballgame.'"
Murphy nearly had a shot at going the distance, as he returned to the mound for the final frame with the Bobcats backed by a two-run lead. But Murphy -- who finished with 117 pitches -- walked Charles Lively to start the inning before giving way to Ryan Cherry. The reliever surrendered a run-scoring wild pitch with two outs and put the tying-run in scoring position, but forced a flyout by Brandon Johnson to end the game.
The win gave the Bobcats their first-ever regular season sweep of the Seahawks.
"We're starting to play good baseball, so we really don't want to be out of it right now," coach Bryant Kitty said. "We're not going to ponder on it. We know we've had opportunities before now, but the most important thing is we're starting to play now."
The two teams battled to a 1-all stalemate after three innings before the Seahawks broke through with a pair of runs in the fourth. Austin Krzeminski was hit by a pitch start the frame before Michael Haven brought the left fielder home on a single to center. The center fielder came around to score moments later on a wild pitch.
But the Bobcats quickly pulled even in the fifth, as Bluffton capitalized on a pair of errors by second baseman Cameron Stoltz with an RBI double and single by Michael Grant and Khalil Mitchell, respectively. The Bobcats took the lead for good an inning later, as they tallied four straight hits with two outs and the bases empty. The decisive blow came on an RBI single to center by Eric Boyles before Jake Martin added to the lead with a run-scoring double.
"Bluffton had the opportunity to be aggressive in some spots and they got the job done more than we did," Hilton Head High coach Chris Wells said.
The Seahawks -- who fell to 6-3 in region play -- were left lamenting their missed opportunities. Hilton Head High stranded 13 men on base in the loss, with the turning point coming in the fifth, as the Seahawks loaded the bases with no outs and failed to score.
"The left on base killed us, the errors killed us," Wells said. "We've played better baseball than that."
The Seahawks looked as though they were on the verge of knocking Murphy out, who loaded the bases on a single, error and hit by pitch. But the sophomore wiggled his way out of the jam with a pop up of Caleb Martin sandwiched between a pair of strikeouts, with the last one sending the Bobcats bench into a frenzy.
"Everybody was fired up," Murphy said. "That's the way to be a man."
The Bobcats must now pull for the Seahawks two days from now in the hopes they knock off a Dolphins team that swept the regular season series from the Bobcats. Should that happen, Kitty's crew will have at least two more chances at continuing their recent surge.
"We've gelled," Bryant said. "It may have come a little late in the season, but that's why we're hoping we do get in. We want to continue the way we're playing right now."
Bluffton 010 022 0 -- 5 13 2
Hilton Head High 010 200 1 -- 4 8 2
WP: Chance Murphy (5-1) 6 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 5 K.
LP: Mat Clark (4-3) 6 IP, 11 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K.
Top hitters: Bluffton -- Eric Boyles 2 for 5, 2B, RBI; Jake Martin 2 for 4, 2 2B, RBI; Michael Grant 2 for 3, 2B, RBI; Cooper Boni 2 for 3, 2B, RBI. Hilton Head High -- Michael Haven 2 for 3, 2 BB, RBI; Cameron Stoltz 2 for 3, BB.