Hanahan High School beats Bishop England twice to advance to state baseball title series

Hanahan relief pitcher Skylar Hunter, who started the game as catcher, reacts to his team making the last out to win the first game against Bishop Englandtheir lower state championship match up Friday, May 11, 2012 on Daniel Island. (Tyrone Walker/postandcourier.com)

Class AA baseball By ANDREW MILLER

apmiller@postandcourier.com It wouldn’t be a Bishop England-Hanahan baseball game without just a little bit of drama.

Ryan Manore threw a two-hitter and Hunter Bessinger smashed a three-run home run in the sixth inning to lead Hanahan past Bishop England, 3-1, in a decisive Game 3 in the Class AA Lower State finals Friday night before a standing-room-only crowd at Father Kelly Field.

The Hawks (23-9) beat the Bishops (19-12), 1-0, in nine innings in Game 2 earlier in the day to force a Game 3 in the best-of-three series.

The Hawks will face the winner of the Gilbert-Palmetto series for the title beginning Monday night at Hanahan.

This was the fourth time that Bishop England and Hanahan have met in the Lower State finals. The Hawks, who lost to Bishop England on Monday, needed to beat the Bishops twice on Friday to advance to their second state finals in the last three years. In 2010, the Hawks pulled off a similar feat, beating Bishop England twice to get to the state finals.

The intensity of the rivalry between the two schools was palpable on the field and in the stands.

“Both teams were under a tremendous amount of pressure with everything that was on the line tonight,” said Hanahan coach Brian Mitchell. “It was two great games, two great teams and the atmosphere was just nuts all night long. The fans on both sides were great. It was a great night for high school baseball.”

With the Bishop England leading 1-0 and Bishops starting pitcher Ryan Maskim in control, it appeared the Bishops were on their way to defend their state title.

But Bret Hines, who had three hits in the two games, walked and Nick Zerbst singled with one out. Bessinger drilled the next pitch deep over the let field fence to give the Hawks a 3-1 lead.

“It was a fastball right down the middle of the plate,” Bessinger said. “It feels so good to beat these guys and do it on their home field made it that much sweeter.”

Two pitches after Bessinger’s home run, Maksim was thrown out of the game after he hit Seth Lancaster in the back with an off speed pitch. Home plate umpire Jim Wheeler ejected Maksim and then tossed Bishop England coach Mike Darnell after a heated argument.

“That was a garbage call,” Darnell said. “We’re not going to hit a guy in a 3-1 game. This isn’t the big leagues. I think that was a very, very poor call. It’s one thing to toss me, but to throw a kid out of the game in that situation took away from the game.”

Manore wasn’t overpowering, but kept the Bishop hitters off balance all game. After giving up a run in the first inning, Manore retired the next 10 batters he faced.

“I had my two-seamer going pretty good, my sinker and my slider were working as well tonight,” Manore said. “I was trying to get it down the middle of the plate and make them hit ground balls. The guys behind were great all night.

“This is a such a great rivalry with Bishop England. There’s always going to be a little bit of drama. You pretty much need to have a SWAT team around to keep us safe.”

This was the four time the Hawks beat the Bishops this season.

“I can’t fault our kids or their effort,” Darnell said. “Hanahan’s got a great team and they’re very well coached. We didn’t lose tonight, we got beat by a better team.”

The first game was a classic pitcher’s duel between Hines and Bishop England’s Shawn Singletary. Both had command on their pitches and threw into the eighth inning.

The only run of the game came in the ninth inning when Bessinger slapped a single to right with one out. One batter later, Bessinger scored on Lancaster’s triple to the corner in right.

“I was looking curveball and I got fastball over the plate,” said Lancaster, a sophomore, who verbally committed to South Carolina. “I struck out last year with a chance like this and I wasn’t going to let my teammates down tonight.”

Game 1 H 000 000 001 – 1 8 1

BE 000 000 000 – 0 6 1 WP: Skylar Hunter.

LP: Shawn Singletary Game 2 H 000 003 0 -- 3 4 1

BE 100 000 0 -- 1 2 1 WP: Ryan Manore

LP: Ryan Maksim