CHESNEE — It appeared on a couple of occasions that Chesnee was going to run itself out of perfectly good opportunities to put runs on the board.
Luckily for the Eagles, base-running mistakes didn’t determine the outcome.
Chesnee scratched together a pair of late runs to down visiting Bishop England, 2-1, in the first game of the Class AA state baseball championship series on Monday night. It can clinch the title with a win at Bishop England on Wednesday. The Bishops can force a decisive third game with a home win.
Bishop England broke a scoreless game with a run in the top of the sixth inning. Jonathan Browning led off with a double and later reached third on a pickoff attempt. Zack Madden picked up the RBI on a fly-out to left field.
Chesnee looked to have something cooking in the fourth inning but could not capitalize. Instead of eventually having the bases loaded with one out, it had to settle for two runners on with two outs when a pinch runner got caught too far off the bag and then tried to steal second. The two batters afterwards drew walks but an infield pop out ended the inning.
In the sixth, Colton Grant recorded a base hit and took second on a wild pitch. He scored the tying run on a double from Drew Fisher. However, Fisher was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into triple for the second out. Bobby Foos next ripped a base hit and later took second on an error before Jimmy Yelton bailed out the Eagles with a go-ahead single.
“We battled all night,” Chesnee coach Scott Wease said. “Their guy pitched a good game and kind of kept us off-balanced. When they struck a run there in the sixth it kind of got us going. We figured we better go. Our seniors led the way. Colton got a hit. Drew got a double and tried to stretch it into a triple to score him. Jimmy then got a big hit for us.”
Grant finished 2 for 3 with a run scored, while Fisher was 2 for 3 with the double and RBI.
“We’ve been doing that all year,” Fisher said. “They came in and scored one, and we’re still even keeled. We came in calm as can be and started a rally.”
Yelton’s lone hit came on the RBI single. Chesnee recorded four of its six hits in the sixth.
“I wasn’t thinking much at first, and then they threw the ball away and Bobby was in scoring position,” Yelton said. “It was on then. I had to come through. I knew I had to come through and tried to do my best. We made a few mistakes and that’s uncharacteristic for us, but we’ll work hard and correct it.”
Parker Babcock picked up the win in a complete-game effort, surrendering four hits with nine strikeouts. He fanned seven of the first 10 batters faced, including the side in the third.
“I knew sooner or later we’d come around,” Babcock said. “When they got that run across, they did what they are supposed to do. There’s nothing I can do about that. How we answered sums it all up. Colton, Drew and Jimmy got on base, and we did what we had to do.”
“Parker is Parker,” Wease said. “He does his thing, and it never looks like anything ever fazes him.”
Bishops’ starting pitcher Patrick Clarey was the tough-luck loser, although tossing a complete game with a pair of strikeouts.
“We don’t hit, so we have to rely on pitching,” Bishop England coach Mike Darnell said. “We made some mistakes. We made a mistake pitch. We played a ball poorly in center field. We threw a ball away, and let a single beat us… I don’t know if we deserved to win, but we had an opportunity.”