The battle for the Class AAA state baseball championship comes down to one game as two-time defending champion Bishop England takes on Crescent in Game 3 of the best-of-three series on Saturday at Lexington County stadium.
Each team won on the other’s home field in the first two games. Bishop England won 3-2 last Saturday, scoring twice in the seventh inning for a come-from-behind win. Crescent led from start to finish in its 6-4 win at Bishop England on Tuesday night
The story of Tuesday night’s game was how Crescent handled Bishop England senior ace Geoffrey Gilbert. Gilbert lost for the first time at home and the first time in his career against a team from South Carolina, lasting just two innings and allowing four runs.
Due to his short stint, Gilbert is eligible to pitch Saturday. Bishop England coach Mike Darnell said all three of his top pitchers — Gilbert, Daniel Brooks and William Anderson — could see action in the game.
“For any pitcher we send out there, pounding the strike zone is the biggest thing,” Darnell said. “If we’re not throwing strikes, the defense is on their heels and that’s where mistakes are made. Everyone is available and different scenarios will dictate how we will attack the game in terms of our pitching.”
In Tuesday’s loss, Darnell was most disturbed by what he perceived as a lack of effort and focus from his team. He has stressed that point during Bishop England’s practices this week.
“Really my only point of emphasis was to play as hard as you can and walk off that field Saturday feeling like you gave it all you had,” he said. “Win or lose, that has to be the feeling. I felt like our effort level was poor on Tuesday, for whatever reason. That was the most concerning thing about Tuesday’s loss. I just didn’t feel like we played hard.”
Another concern for the Bishops is that in both games, Crescent came out strong and grabbed early leads. In two games, Bishop England has held a lead for one half of one inning, that being the seventh inning of Game 1.
“Certainly we need to get off to a better start on Saturday,” said Darnell, who is seeking his sixth state championship at Bishop England.
Crescent is likely to start Jarrett Oakes, who threw seven innings last Saturday and allowed one earned run.
“We’ve had a good few days of practice,” Darnell said. “We went to work on some things that we were doing in the regular season. The kids have responded. They will be ready to play. I’m sure both teams will bring their best on Saturday.”