Having already been crowned SCISAA Region 3-AAA champions, the Hilton Head Prep baseball team passed its final test before the playoffs with flying colors.
The Dolphins bashed their way to a six-run second inning while cruising to a 7-0 win over visiting Thomas Hayward Academy on Thursday.
The Dolphins (16-2) capped off the regular season with a performance that showed off their strength in all facets of the game. Pitcher Greg Warren threw six shutout innings, changing speeds and painting the corners to keep the Rebels off balance. His effort was helped by some spectacular defensive play from senior shortstop John Sheehan, whose slick fielding kept the opponent's bats at bay.
"I've always been a defensive guy," Sheehan said. "You struggle at the plate sometimes in high school baseball and get frustrated, but you know your defense has always got to be consistent."
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Prep head coach Lew Kent said his team didn't play its best game, but he didn't have to worry much about run production on the night.
"Were we really sharp? No," Kent said. "Our pitching was good, we played good defense and we hit enough today."
The Dolphins put the Rebels (11-5) away when six consecutive batters reached to start the second inning. Left fielder J.T. Marbut singled to right with the bases loaded to break the deadlock. Designated hitter Braden Mitchell followed that with a walk to force in another run. Sheehan's single to center drove in two more, and that hit was followed by a sacrifice fly and another RBI single to round out the inning.
That was more than enough for Warren.
Kent said Warren had a "special mojo going" Thursday. The left-hander struck out six and allowed just three hits.
The Dolphins were also celebrating senior night, heralding the accomplishments of eight veterans who have played together for many years. Sheehan said the occasion helped make the win over the Region 2-AA champions a memorable one.
"We've been growing up together since first grade," Sheehan said. "So it's a special day."
THA 000 000 0 -- 0 3 1
HHP 060 100 x -- 7 8 0
WP: Greg Warren
LP: Seth Jones
Leading Hitters: HHP -- John Sheehan 2-4, 2 1B, BB, RBI, R; Braden Mitchell 1-2, 2B, BB, RBI 2R