Facing a 2-0 deficit and on the bad end of a no-hitter in the bottom of the seventh inning, the James Island Trojans rallied to tie the score and win Monday night’s AAA Lower State playoff game with Brookland-Cayce, 3-2, in nine innings.
James Island (18-10) will travel to Airport High (23-3) in Columbia on Wednesday for a winners’ bracket game.
Junior second baseman Connor Hobbs delivered the game-winning hit with one out in the bottom of the ninth, slapping a hard grounder through a drawn-in infield to score Ryan Beasenburg.
“I’m not so sure we deserved to win this game, but we will take it,” said James Island coach Tom Hatley. “Really, we were outplayed and outcoached for about six innings tonight. But it’s a credit to our kids. They hung in there and found a way to win a game that it looked like we were going to lose.”
James Island fell behind, 2-0, in the first inning on Trey Foster’s two-run homer off Daniel Wilcutt. Wilcutt, however, was spectacular the rest of way. The right-hander, who recently made a verbal commitment to The Citadel, went eight innings, striking out 13 hitters. Twice Wilcutt fanned three consecutive batters to escape bases-loaded, no-out jams.
“He was huge for us, getting out of those innings with no runs,” said Hatley. “Both pitchers really dominated the ballgame.”
Brookland-Cayce starter Cody Swancey carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning but opened the inning by walking Tyler Weekley and Cody Hobbs. A passed ball moved the runners to second and third. Ben Burris popped up to the infield but Foster dropped the ball, loading the bases with no outs.
Relief pitcher Austin Hoard walked Ty Stubbs on four pitches, cutting the lead to 2-1. Beasenburg followed with the Trojans’ first hit, a bouncer past the mound that rolled dead about 75 feet from home play, tying the score. James Island left the bases loaded however, sending the game in extra innings.
In the ninth, Beasenburg singled to left with one out and went to second when the leftfielder misplayed the hop.
Jesse Mattson reached on a high chopper between short and third. Hobbs hit the second pitch back through the middle for the game-winner.
“If he had not hit that pitch, we were going to try to squeeze the run in but he came through with a big hit for us,” said Hatley.
Weekley, who went seven innings in Friday night’s District championship win over Gilbert, pitched a scoreless ninth for the win.