Ashley Ridge, Beaufort reach championship game of HIT

Austin Livingston pitched for Ashley Ridge in their 4-2 win over Louisville Male in the Hanahan Invitational Tournament on Thursday April 12, 2012. (Wade Spees/postandcourier.com)

HANAHAN — The championship of the 43rd annual Hanahan Invitational Tournament has a Region 8-AAAA favor and flair.

Ashley Ridge will play Beaufort in the title game, which starts at 7:30 p.m. today at Sportsman Field.

Ashley Ridge advanced with a 4-2 victory over Louisville Male (Ky.), while Beaufort pounded Wando, 20-10, to advance.

Ashley Ridge enters with a 17-1 record. The Swamp Foxes’ only loss this season was to Beaufort.

Ashley Ridge reached the HIT championship for the first time in the school’s four-year history with the victory over Kentucky’s top team.

Louisville loaded the bases with two out in the bottom of the seventh, but Austin Livingston ended the threat with his seventh strikeout of the game.

“That was a very good team,” Ashley Ridge coach B.J. Bellush said the of the Bluegrass State team. “We played them two years ago, so they have our respect. They are well coached and play well.’

Ashley Ridge won its eighth straight game.

Billy Seigler hit the first pitch of the fourth inning over the center field fence to stake the Swamp Foxes to a 1-0 lead.

“We didn’t swing the bats really well, but we got the timely hits,” Bellush said. “This is big for us, but we play Colleton County on Monday and Summerville on Friday. Those are big region games. We want to win the region and get a No. 1 seed.”

Livingston started strong against the Bulldogs, who didn’t get a hit until Justin Linares singled with two outs in the bottom of the fourth.

Livingston, who scattered five hits and walked four, gave up a pair of unearned runs in the bottom of the fifth.

But Ashley Ridge rallied with three runs in the top of the sixth to take a 4-2 lead. Irving Batten had the big hit, a two-run double off the wall in left center.

Beaufort collected 17 hits, including four homers to knock the defending HIT champs into the consolation bracket.

Steve Baggett had the big blow, a grand slam in the sixth inning when the Eagles sent 13 batters to the plate. Carson Gregory also homered in the sixth.

Weber Pike and Mark Jones homered in the first inning. Jones just missed a grand slam in the bottom of the sixth

Wando second baseman Matthew Filosa hit a two-run homer, while Babe Thomas blasted two solo shots.

Pike went 4 for 4 with four RBIs. Tony Nolan and Alex Silon both were 2 for 4.

Trevor Pederson went 2 for 4 for Wando while Filosa was 2 for 3 and Thomas 2 for 2 with three runs.

The loss ended Wando’s 12-game winning streak.