Tuesday night’s Class AA Lower State elimination playoff game between Bishop England and Aynor had a little bit of everything — some hits, some errors and some controversy.
The biggest hit of the night came with one out in the bottom of the seventh by Bishop England freshman Leo Albano, who delivered a two-run, game-winning single to right to rally the Bishops to a 4-3 victory.
Bishop England advanced to play another elimination game on Wednesday at Waccamaw, which beat Bishop England, 2-1, on Monday night.
Albano’s big hit came right after the controversy. With one out and a runner on second, Bishops’ rightfielder Jeffrey Brown hit a high chopper to short. The speedy Brown made the play close at first and the throw was high, causing first baseman Hayden Franklin to leave the bag. However, Franklin was able to reach the bag after taking the throw, causing the first base umpire to call Brown out.
Bishop England coach Mike Darnell asked for help from the home plate umpire and, after a brief consultation, Brown was ruled safe on the overturned call.
On the next pitch, Brown stole second, and Albano later hit a 2-2 pitch into right to score both runners.
“As a coach, that’s a situation where you can go ask for help so I did,” said Darnell. “Not often do you see that call reversed, yet the same thing happened to us last night against Waccamaw. Honestly, I don’t think that umpire should make that call in that situation, but it is something that can happen. It benefitted us tonight. It didn’t last night. That’s baseball.”
Controversy aside, Albano proved to be the unlikely hero of the game. His game-winning hit was his third safety of the night to go with two bunt singles. He also pitched the top of the seventh and came away as the winning pitcher.
“He’s not a freshman anymore,” said Darnell of Albano, who also played quarterback last football season. “He’s a kid that won’t be rattled. He played most of the year on the junior varsity and he’s ready. He’s a smart kid, a confident kid. Nothing bothers him, which is great.”
The Bishops scratched for single unearned runs in the third and fifth innings and led, 2-0, heading into the sixth. Aynor, however, used two hits, two walks and two errors to plate three runs in the top of the sixth.
“We tend to have that one bad inning every game and it almost hurt us tonight,” said Darnell. “We survived it and we found a way to win. So now we have to go to Waccamaw and try to find a way to win another one.”
BISHOP ENGLAND 4, AYNOR 3
Aynor 000 003 0—3 5 4
Bishop England 001 010 2—4 5 2
Records: Bishop England 15-13. Next: Bishop England at Waccamaw on Wednesday.