USC Beaufort

Sand Sharks have forgettable home opener

At various points during USC Beaufort's first two baseball seasons, coach Rick Sofield spoke about something magical happening at Hardeeville's Richard Gray Baseball Complex. The Sand Sharks scratched back from early deficits time and again, showing a knack for coming out on the right side of tight games.

The magic didn't manifest itself Wednesday, and No. 24 Brewton-Parker spoiled No. 18 USCB's home opener with a 13-1 rout that prompted a long and spirited postgame speech from Sofield.

"If you leave here as a Sand Shark remotely satisfied with anything today, or you think for a minute that just because the sun comes up tomorrow that things are going to change, you're sadly mistaken if we continue to look at it the way we did today," Sofield said.

The Barons (4-0) chased Sand Sharks ace Adam Miller early, tagging him for six earned runs -- all with two outs -- before he left with two outs in the fourth.

It was a rare rough outing for Miller, who went 10-2 last season and didn't lose until the Sun Conference Tournament.

"Miller obviously is better than that," Sofield said. "He left a breaking ball up early. The umpire missed one or two that ruffled him a little, and he gave up a three-spot because of it. He was trying to do too much."

Still, the Sand Sharks (1-1) had plenty of chances to work the magic they've come to believe in, especially when playing at home.

Reliever Andrew Barrineau kept things close by retiring the last eight batters he faced, and the Sand Sharks had at least two runners on in four consecutive innings starting in the third. But they came away with little to show for it, leaving the bases loaded after scoring their lone run in the fourth and failing to push anything across despite getting the first two runners on in the fifth and sixth.

Despite playing three games against Edward Waters in the previous two days, the Barons showed no signs of a depleted pitching staff. Starter Daniel Miller retired the first eight hitters and allowed one run before leaving with two outs in the fourth, and four relievers combined to shut out the Sand Sharks the rest of the way.

Right-hander Ricky Rogers led the way, allowing four hits and striking out four in four scoreless innings for the win. Rogers came up with huge strikeouts to end three consecutive innings, getting DeShontay Berry with the bases loaded in the fourth and with two on in the sixth and striking out Ty Main with two on in the fifth.

"I was standing down there thinking, you know, two years ago, both these guys would hit home runs in this spot," Sofield said. "It just happened. And then, there's years where that guy doesn't hit home runs in that spot."

The good news for the Sand Sharks is they don't have to wait long to move on. They'll play four games over the weekend against Fisher (Mass.) College and one at Edward Waters on Tuesday before opening Sun Conference play Feb. 18-19 with a home series against Ave Maria.

"We've got to keep grinding, or it could tilt the wrong way," Sofield said. "And I ain't letting it tilt the wrong way. I just can't take losing that much."

Brewton-Parker 300 300 403 -- 13 14 0

USCB 000 100 000 -- 1 7 1

WP: Ricky Rogers (1-0) 4 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K.

LP: Adam Miller (0-1) 3 2-3 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 4 K.

Top hitters: Brewton-Parker -- Josh Palmer 2 for 5, double, two runs, two RBIs; Jacob Evors 3 for 5, double, three RBIs; Michael Pleau 2 for 3, RBI; Errick Fox 1 for 1, two RBIs. USCB -- David O'Neil 2 for 4, double; Daniel Wass 2 for 3.

Records: Brewton-Parker 4-0; USCB 1-1.

Up next: Fisher (Mass.) College at USCB, doubleheader at noon Saturday.

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