Bishops’ title dreams intact

The Bishop England baseball team’s bid to win state championships in odd-calendar years remains intact.

The Bishops won state titles in 2003, ’05, ’07, ’09, and ’11, and took a big step toward another title with a 3-1 home victory over Loris on Monday night in the Class AA Lower State championship series.

The Bishops (21-4) are off until Friday, when they host the winner of Wednesday’s Dillon at Loris elimination game. The Bishops need to win only one of two Friday to advance to the state championship series.

The Bishops got strong pitching from Patrick Clarey, who pitched a two-hitter, and made the most of four hits off Tanner Chock, one of the state’s leaders in strikeouts.

Loris played small ball in the first inning as four of its first five hitters attempted to bunt. The Lions loaded the bases with no outs, but got only one run.

“That’s a win for us,” Bishop England coach Mike Darnell said. “We came out and didn’t play very well early. They bunted and we couldn’t make the play. They bunted again and we couldn’t make the play. But it’s a win when you get out of the inning with only one run when the other team has the bases loaded.”

The Bishops scored an unearned run in the bottom of the third as both pitchers seemed to be in control. But the Bishops finally got untracked in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Cameron Garrett led off with a fly ball to the center field for a loud out, and designated hitter Zack Madden, who has been slowed by an injury, singled to left. Darnell inserted Jamie Garrett as a pinch runner and Chock attempted a pickoff. But the throw was wide and Garrett raced to third.

Harrison Boals, one of two Bishops who is hitting over .400, hit a sacrifice fly to score Garrett. First baseman Griffin Herbert plated another run with a double to push the lead to 3-1.

Clarey pitched a scoreless seventh and the Bishops notched their seventh consecutive victory.

The Bishops have outscored their five playoff foes, 17-3.

“Patrick Clarey gave us another strong effort,” Darnell said. “Pitching and defense — although we didn’t play defense that well in the first inning. We didn’t make the plays to start the game, but did in the end.”

Loris 100 000 0—1 2 3

Bishop England 001 002 x—3 4 3

WP—Clarey. LP—Chock. Record: BE 21-4. Next: BE hosts Dillon-Loris winner on Friday.