MONCKS CORNER — Top-ranked A.C. Flora manufactured three runs and held off Berkeley, 3-1, in the first game of the Class AAA Lower State championship series on Saturday night.
Falcons senior ace left-hander Player Loving, a College of Charleston signee, scattered four hits and struck out seven batters.
Berkeley ace Garrett Gallagher also was solid, allowing two runs on five hits and striking out eight in 52/3 innings.
“It was a close game and we just came up on the short end,” said Berkeley coach Landy Cox. “We made a couple of mistakes, little things. We played hard but Flora played a little better. They’re the top-ranked team in the state and we played right there with them. We just have to bounce back Monday and keep this thing alive.”
Berkeley will host Chapin, a 10-0 loser to St. James, on Monday night in an elimination game.
The Stags struck first with a run in the bottom of the second. With the bases loaded and no outs, sophomore Dylan Baker singled to right to score a run.
Josh Simmons attempted to score from second on the play, but was gunned down by Flora right fielder Connor Desmond. Simmons did not attempt a slide at the plate and was ejected from the game.
“Only getting one run out of all that hurt, but we have to be able to keep going and find a way to score,” said Cox.
A.C. Flora tied the game at 1 on freshman Donald Gillespie’s RBI single with two outs.
The Falcons took a 2-1 lead in the sixth on a two-out passed ball, then added an insurance run in the seventh on Schroeder Carlton’s steal of third and subsequent errant throw on the play.