A play here, a hit there and who knows how the Class AA state baseball championship series between the Oceanside Collegiate Landsharks and Landrum Cardinals might have played out.
Landrum, the state’s top-ranked AA team for most of the season, came up with a few more plays and defeated Oceanside Collegiate, 4-2, on Wednesday night to clinch the state title at Shipyard Park.
The Cardinals entered the game with a 1-0 series lead after winning 2-1 on Monday night at home. The competitiveness of the games made losing a little tougher to swallow for Landsharks head coach Jerry Stoots.
“It’s really disappointing, to get so close,” Stoots said. “You know, if we get beat 12-1 up there the other day and 14-2 here today, it might be a little easier to live with. I’m proud of our kids. I am disappointed we didn’t play a little better in these two games but you can’t make the kind of mistakes that we made against the best team in the state.”
Oceanside fell behind early, allowing two runs in the second inning, both unearned. However, the Landsharks answered with two runs in the third inning. Isaac Barney led off the frame with a triple to left and later scored on a fielder’s choice, dislodging the ball from the catcher on a throw home. Gray Sobel followed with an RBI single, scoring Aiden Pourmaghadam.
Landrum went ahead 3-2 with a run in the fourth and left the bases loaded. Oceanside left runners on in the fourth and fifth innings and left two on base in the sixth. The Landsharks left nine on base in the game.
“We had our chances; we sure did,” Stoots said. “We had some things go against us early. We didn’t take advantage of some things that maybe could have made a different in the outcome.”
Landrum added an insurance run in the sixth. Landrum freshman Evan Siary, the starting pitcher, allowed six hits and struck out 10 in six innings.
Sobel finished the game with two hits for the Landsharks.
“We didn’t know if were very good or not, all year long. It was all new to us,” said Stoots, whose team was eligible for the state playoff for the first time this season. “When the playoffs came around we got a chance to see where we fit in and we figured out we were pretty good. Thirty-two teams started out and someone was going to be the best AA team in the state. That’s what we were trying to do.”
With most of this year’s roster slated to return next spring, being a state contender is certainly a possibility.
“We feel like we can even better next year, but we’ll see what happens,” Stoots said.