Berkeley wins two district championships

DAN BROWN/THE INDEPENDENT The Berkeley Stags baseball and softball teams captured a pair of district championships, with the Stags softball team edging Georgetown, 4-3, and the baseball team blanking Swansea, 5-0.

The Independent

The Berkeley Stags baseball and softball teams captured a pair of district championships, with the Stags softball team edging Georgetown, 4-3, and the baseball team blanking Swansea, 5-0.

Ladies first.

Jesse Stanley’s RBI single in the bottom of the sixth drove in the go-ahead run, and Stanley scored the eventual winning run on Blake Ponder’s RBI double to give the Berkeley Lady Stags a 4-3 win and District VII championship over Georgetown.

The Lady Stags will play the District V champion, either Gilbert or Darlington.

Brooklyn Stone held the Bulldogs at bay inside the circle, allowing just a pair of runs over seven innings.

The District VII championship had been a goal of this Lady Stags team since they were knocked out of the playoffs last year after winning their second consecutive Region 8-AAA championship.

Coach Boogie Grooms said he’d trade every region championship this team ever won for a district championship and a shot at a state title.

This year, the plan worked.

“We have our sights set on loftier goals than just a region championship,” Grooms said. “We want to play for a state championship.”

Berkeley struggled during the regular season with losses to Stratford, Summerville and Region 8-AAA champion Hanahan, but the Lady Stags caught fire at the right time, winning the school’s first-ever district title in softball.

Now, it’s the gentlemen’s turn.

The Berkeley Stags sent a message to both Swansea and the rest of District VIII. To beat Berkeley you have to score against them first. Josh Winningham fired six scoreless innings and hit a monster two-run homer to lead the Stags to a 5-0 win and their third district trophy. Berkeley won district championships in 2012, 2014 and now 2015.

Winningham and Brad Browder combined to throw the Stags’ 15th shutout of the season.

“I was all over that pitch,” Winningham said of the two-run blast that landed in the pond behind well behind the left-field fence. “He threw it in my wheel house and I crushed it.”

Winningham and Joe Glauser, both lefties, have accounted for 15 of the Stags’ 21 wins between them and will lead the 21-3 Stags into the Lower State Final Four.

Stags Coach Landy Cox said the front half of his southpaw tandem has battled all year with his arm and his stick.

“He’s really worked hard and this game was all his, both on the mound and at the plate,” Cox said.

Berkeley outscored its District VIII competition 26-2 and threw a pair of shutouts.