As the Hilton Head Island High School baseball team continued to find its footing offensively over the last several weeks, interim coach Blair Carson opted to switch up his club's batting practice routine in favor of more situational work.
"The drills he's got us doing in the cage, it used to be just swing away," right fielder Caleb Martin said. "Now it's practicing getting (runners) over, two-out at-bats, hit-and-runs. It's really helping us a lot."
The Seahawks are beginning to reap the rewards of their additional pregame work. And Martin put those efforts on display Tuesday, when the senior delivered a two-out triple with two strikes through the right side and a runner in scoring position.
His extra-base hit plate one of six second-inning runs Thursday for Hilton Head High, which slugged its way to another day thanks to a 10-0 win over Marlboro County in six innings. The Seahawks must win today against St. James in order to advance to the District VII championship against Brookland-Cayce. The Bearcats upset the top-seeded Sharks, 6-5, in nine innings Tuesday after beating Hilton Head High 5-2 last week.
"Last game, we didn't come out like we wanted to," said first baseman Storm Grisham, who went 1 for 2 with a triple and two RBIs. "We started off with nine runs in two innings today. That's exactly how we want to do it."
While the Seahawks (16-5) cruised along offensively, pitcher Jake Kizer was busy mowing down the Bulldogs (6-12) on the mound. The senior allowed just one single in his three innings of work, picking up his fourth win of the season while lowering his ERA to 1.19.
"He's thrown the ball great all year, he really has," Carson said. "I know his last three starts ... he may have given up two hits in his last three starts. He's been great. Hopefully he'll get a chance to pitch again maybe, but we'll see."
Kizer will pitch the fifth and final game of the district playoff should the Seahawks make it that far. Carson said freshman Ryan Cherry will pitch tonight while Mat Clark would follow in the first game of the district championship.
Should Hilton Head High beat St. James tonight, it will have to knock off Brookland-Cayce twice on Friday in Columbia to advance to the Lower State tournament.
"We have something to prove with (St. James)," Martin said. "They beat us the past two years, knocked us out. We want to take it to them hard."
If the Seahawks hit like they did Tuesday, getting to the district final may not be a big stretch. Hilton Head High pounded out a pair of triples and a double from Carlos Pecero in the win over Marlboro County while 10 batters in all reached base, seven via hits.
"It feels really good," Martin said. "We had nothing to lose. It's do it or don't. ... We just came out and played to win."
Marlboro County 000 000 -- 0 3 3
Hilton Head High 360 001 -- 10 9 1
WP: Jake Kizer (4-2) 3 IP, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 H, 0 BB, 2 K.
LP: Connor Pate 2 IP, 9 R, 6 ER, 7 H, 1 BB, HBP, 0 K.
Top hitters: Marlboro County -- Nick Rogers 2 for 3; Kaleb Williams 1 for 2, 2B. Hilton Head High -- Storm Grisham 1 for 2, 3B, BB, 2 RBI, SB, 2 R; Dillon Heffner, 1 for 2, 2 BB, 3 R; Caleb Martin 1 for 2, 3B, 2 RBI, 2 R; Andrew Dill 2 for 3, 2 SB, 2 RBI; Carlos Pecero 2 for 3, 2B.