High School Sports

Beaufort High falls to South Aiken in extra innings in district baseball opener

Beaufort High School baseball players ambled around thier dugout, waiting to go home, while their coach checked his phone for word of the Eagles' next opponent.

Someone spoke up, told them to flush the memory of Thursday's game and be ready for the next one. But this one wasn't going away immediately.

South Aiken hung in on the road and opened the Class 4-A playoffs with a 7-6 victory in eight innings after silencing the Eagles' bats the final two frames.

"We felt like we were ready to play," Eagles second baseman Mark Jones said. "It's heartbreaking."

Beaufort High hosts Dutch Fork on Saturday for the right to stay alive in District VI.

The Eagles were an out away from advancing in the winner's bracket. But Robert Dezac's fourth hit of the game scored the tying run for South Aiken in the seventh. And Thoroughbreds shortstop Cory Bryant delivered what would be the game-winning RBI the following inning.

The Eagles lost after rallying to take the lead in the sixth after back-to-back Thoroughbreds' home runs left Beaufort High in a hole.

Eagles starter Carson Gregory, a sophomore making his first playoff appearance, said he heard John Leopard and Taylor Widener carried South Aiken's big bats. And after successfuly navigating the pair through their first two at-bats, Gregory learned of the power first hand. Leopard's sixth-inning shot carried the fence in left-center. Widener followed with an opposite field shot to give South Aiken a 5-3 lead.

Beaufort High coach Scott Mullen said he was pleased with his pitching depth during the season and with the performance of his starters. Gregory entered with a 5-2 record and 1.99 ERA. He said teammates told him what to expect from a playoff atmosphere and that he was ready.

"I felt great," Gregory said. "I was pumped up that they were telling me all this, and it was a blast. But we came up on the short end."

Gregory gave way to senior Joel Fickes after the home runs and a double. Fickes hit the first two Thoroughbreds in the eighth to set up the go-ahead run.

South Aiken coach Bob Polewski started Leopard and countered with left-hander Jared Felix in the seventh. Felix's three-quarter delivery and extra movement helped retire eight of the final nine Beaufort High batters.

Mullen said earlier in the week that with the pitching depth, the Eagles should be fine if their bats kept up. But after coming back to claim the lead in the sixth, the Eagles couldn't manage a rally against the new arm.

"We've got to fight harder to close those games down," Mullen said. "it's hard to score three runs and take the lead like we did, and then give up the lead, and then you've got to come back and try to do it all over again. That's hard to do."

Polewski said he didn't know much about Beaufort High other than catcher Weber Pike was headed to South Carolina. After the extra-inning victory, the Thoroughbreds headed home and are back in class today.

"Today was our day," Polewski said. "If we played tomorrow, same thing, it might be their day."

South Aiken 020 012 11 -- 7 11 2

Beaufort High 200 013 00 - 6 10 0

WP: Jared Felix 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K.

LP: Joel Fickes 3 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 2 HBP.

Top Hitters: South Aiken -- Robert Dezac 4 for 4, 2B, RBI; Cory Bryan 2 for 5, RBI; John Leopard 1 for 5, HR; Taylor Widener 1 for 3, HR. Beaufort High -- Stephen Baggett 3 for 4, 2B, RBI; Mark Jones 2 for 4, RBI; Alex Silon 2 for 4, 2 R.