Hanahan baseball coach Brian Mitchell doesn't believe in a sophomore jinx, and for good reason.
The Hawks are a victory away from their first state title since 1976, and a big reason is the play of a superb sophomore class. Hanahan plays Chesnee today in the third and decisive game of the Class AA state championship series with six sophomores in the starting lineup. The game is set for 7 p.m. at Lexington High School.
The Hawks (27-5) will start sophomore Bret Hines on the mound tonight. He is the younger brother of Game 2 winner Bryce Hines.
Bryce ran his record to 13-0 with the 3-2 victory in Game 2, and Bret is 7-0 with a 2.44 ERA entering tonight's game. He will face Chesnee's Brandon Henderson, the winner in Game 1 and a likely MLB draft pick next month.
"Absolutely not. I have no hesitations about using Bret," Mitchell said. "He's very competitive and is a great player. He pitched against Bishop England (in an elimination game) last week and didn't bat an eye."
The younger Hines was the winning pitcher in a 3-2 decision over the Bishops. He pitched a complete game, didn't walk a batter and allowed only four hits and one earned run. Bryce Hines beat the Bishops in the second game last Friday to end the Bishops' reign as state champions.
The younger Hines broke his leg playing football a few years ago. He played with a limp last year, Mitchell said. But he's 100 percent this season.
He also is an outstanding hitter with a .440 batting average with five homers and 30 RBIs.
Junior Derek Koblentz will be ready in the bullpen. He came in Wednesday night with the season on the line, and pitched effectively. He got a groundout, strikeout and flyout after Chesnee rallied from a 3-0 deficit to cut the lead to 3-2.
"That place was about to explode after Bryce gave up a homer and walk to begin the bottom of the seventh," Mitchell said. "They said on the radio that 2,400 tickets were sold, so the place was packed. Derek pitched well on the big stage."
Along with Bret, the other sophomores in the starting lineup are Skyler Hunter (catcher), Ryan Manore (right field), Kyle Dyson (left field), Hunter Bessinger (DH) and Nick Zerbst (second base).