The Hilton Head Island High School baseball team has been faced with its share of adversity this season.
First it was a midseason coaching change, when Chris Wells resigned in April after S.C. High School League violations arose. Then came the forfeiture of a 6-1 win over Beaufort High, which ultimately cost the Seahawks when they lost out on a Region 8-AAA championship thanks to tiebreakers.
Through it all the Seahawks have stuck together, grinding out what has so far been a 15-win season and a No. 2 seed in the District VII playoffs. But another round with adversity awaits Hilton Head High in the coming days, as Brookland-Cayce sent the Seahawks to the loser's bracket with a 5-2 upset Friday night in the Class 3-A playoffs.
Hilton Head High can thank Drew Towery for this latest test. The Bearcats pitcher silenced the Seahawks in the postseason opener, allowing one earned run in the complete-game victory. He struck out six Seahawks and carried a perfect game into the fifth inning before allowing a pair of singles.
"I feel like we had a better team than people actually think we have," he said. "From the beginning of the year some people doubted we'd even make it this far. Through the year, we've proved a lot of people (wrong).
" ... Because of our offense and our pitching here lately, we're on a hot streak."
Hilton Head High was left lamenting its defensive performance once the dust settled. A third-inning throwing error by shortstop Aaron Facenda brought home the Bearcats' first run before Brookland-Cayce tacked on another moments later when DeAndre Asbury-Heath stole home while Grant Petrey got caught in a rundown between first and second.
Those types of miscues can often be difficult for a team like Hilton Head High to overcome, as the Seahawks are built on their pitching and defense, interim coach Blair Carson said, and not their strength at the plate.
"All good ballclubs, you make a mistake, they usually make you pay for it," Carson said. "That's what they did."
Those runs held up from there, as Brookland-Cayce built a 5-0 lead before Storm Grisham plated a run in the sixth with his single to left. A fielding error on the play brought home the Seahawks' last run.
"We looked good in pregame and everything," left fielder Andrew Dill said. "When we got in the game, we had a few decisions that could have been made better. We had a couple errors that kind of hurt us a lot."
Freshman Mat Clark (6-1) was on the receiving end of those errors, as the left-hander suffered his first loss of the season. He allowed three runs, only one of which was earned, in five innings with four strikeouts.
"That's the best thing," Towery said, "when our offense gets going and I start pitching. There's no telling how far we can go this year."
Hilton Head High will look to stay alive in a do-or-die scenario Monday night, hosting Marlboro County, which lost 3-1 to top-seeded St. James on Friday night.
Just another bit of adversity in what has been a season filled with it for Hilton Head High.
"We're going to show up to win," Dill said. "That's what I think. We're going to get pumped up, we're going to be ready to play and we're going to show up to win."
Brookland-Cayce 002 012 0 -- 5 7 1
Hilton Head High 000 002 0 -- 262
WP: Drew Towery (4-2) 7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K
LP: Mat Clark (6-1) 5 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 1 HBP, 4 K
Top hitters: Brookland-Cayce -- DeAndre Asbury-Heath 2 for 4, 2B, RBI; Trey Foster 2 for 3, 2B; Brett Ebener 2 for 2, HBP, 2 RBI; Hilton Head High -- Storm Grisham 2 for 2, RBI; Caleb Martin 1 for 3; Brandon Johnson 1 for 3, R; Andrew Dill 1 for 2