An unwritten rule in baseball states that a player should never make the first out of an inning by trying to advance to third base.
Every once in awhile, though, a player earns an exception to the rule and avoids a tongue-lashing from his coach.
Mitchell Stewart certainly earned his exception.
Beaufort High School's leadoff hitter smoked a three-run double in the gap to break Monday's game open and help the Eagles to a 14-2 six-inning win against Bluffton High School in the Lowcountry Invitational at Beaufort High. Stewart was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a triple, but it didn't seem to bother Eagles coach Brook Dixon, who gave his second baseman an emphatic high-five on his way back to the dugout.
"I turned that into an out at third, but Coach (Dixon) tells us to be aggressive," Stewart said. "He didn't seem to mind."
It was Stewart's only mistake of the night. He reached base three times, including once on a bunt single, drove in three runs and scored twice.
An ideal night for the Eagles' new leadoff hitter.
"He's the perfect leadoff hitter," Dixon said. "... All those things are exactly what you want out of that spot."
The Eagles got 13 hits from eight players -- including three from David Tilton and two each from Weber Pike and Tony Nolan. Stewart's double off Bluffton ace Ryan Ward turned a 3-2 lead into a 6-2 advantage in the fourth inning. The Eagles carried their four-run lead into the sixth, when they scored eight runs to force the mercy rule.
With the win, Beaufort High (3-0) set up a de-facto championship game against Hilton Head High at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. While the Eagles are the lone remaining undefeated team in the tournament -- which awards its champion based on win percentage -- the Seahawks can pull even with the Eagles by winning Wednesday, and the Seahawks would also hold the tiebreaker of runs allowed.
Beau Brown made sure the Eagles didn't allow many runs Monday. Michael Grant's double down the right field line gave Bluffton a 2-0 lead in the top of the first, but Brown was stellar in rebounding from the pair of unearned runs. He allowed only one hit over the next four innings while striking out five in the game to pick up a win in his first start of the year.
"I was hoping to work my breaking ball a little bit more, but my changeup was working well, so I just stuck with it," Brown said. "I didn't get a lot of (strikeouts), but I trusted my defense and let them do the work."
Ward, on the other hand, didn't get much help from his defense. The Bobcats made four errors in the field, rattling Ward, who threw a pair of scoreless frames to open the game before the Eagles scored three runs in the third and three more in the fourth.
Ward lasted five innings, allowing six runs (five earned), nine hits and no walks. He struck out six.
"We didn't play behind our pitchers tonight, and Ryan got a little frustrated with some of the calls," Bobcats coach Bryant Kitty said. "We had a little adversity thrown our way and didn't know how to handle it."
The Bobcats (2-1) play Colleton County at 4 p.m. Wednesday in their final game of the tournament.
Beaufort High 003 308 -- 14 13 3
Bluffton 200 000 -- 2 3 4
WP: Beau Brown (1-0) 5 IP, 2 R, 0 ER, 2 H, 0 BB, 5 K.
LP: Ryan Ward (0-1) 5 IP, 6 R, 5 ER, 9 H, 0 BB, 6 K.
Hitters: Beaufort High -- Mitchell Stewart 2 for 3, 2B, 2 R, 3 RBIs, David Tilton 3 for 4, 2 R, 2 RBIs, Weber Pike 2 for 4, 2B, R, Tony Nolan 2 for 4, 2B, 2 R; Bluffton -- Michael Grant 1 for 3, 2B, 2 RBI.
Hilton Head High 5, Wade Hampton 0: Mike Vaniska threw a complete-game shutout to lead the Seahawks to their second win of the season and keep them in the hunt for the tournament championship.
Vaniska needed only 88 pitches for the seven-inning game. He allowed five hits, struck out eight and walked none.
Storm Grisham put the game out of reach with a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth. Kevin Hickey was 2 for 2 with a double and two runs scored. Desmond Bush, Michael Haven and Charlie Wilkins also had hits for the Seahawks (2-1), who play Beaufort High at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday for the tournament's title.
Wade Hampton vs. Battery Creek, 6:30 p.m.