First Baptist's C.A. Rhodes was nearly speechless Thursday night. But the Hurricanes right fielder had good reason to be at a loss for words.
Rhodes' single in the bottom of the ninth inning drove in the game-winning run as the Hurricanes beat Dorchester Academy, 2-1, to capture the SCISA Class AA state title before a standing-room only crowd at Northwood Academy.
It was the third straight state title for the Hurricanes, who won the last two games of the best-of-three state title series.
"I don't know what to say," Rhodes said after his single to left in extra innings. "Biggest hit of my life. To win the state championship. Biggest hit of my life. I can't put it into words."
First Baptist coach King Walker had no problem expressing how he felt about the school's three-peat.
"These kids have worked so hard this season and for the last three years. They fought every inning against a great opponent," Walker said. "Not many teams at any level win three in a row, so it's a great compliment to the seniors on this team. They deserve it."
The Hurricanes didn't make it easy on themselves after dropping the first game of the series, 5-1. First Baptist won the second game, 7-3, to force a decisive third game.
"Give Dorchester Academy a ton of credit," Walker said. "They fought us tooth and nail
every inning. They gave us everything we could handle and then some."
Hurricanes pitcher Marlin Morris outdueled Raiders pitcher Jamie Collins for nine innings. Morris gave up four hits and struck out 11, while Collins gave up five hits and walked six.
"I don't know about (Collins), but I was really tired in the eighth and ninth innings," Morris said. "My changeup saved me all night. It was my most consistent pitch all night. My fastball was spotty. I couldn't get it over consistently."
After hitting into two inning-ending double plays in the third and sixth innings, the Hurricanes managed to load the bases in the ninth when Chad Hunter and Morris walked and Chris Bocklet reached on an error.
After Robby Kicklighter struck out, Rhodes connected with a fastball that sailed over the head of oufielder Reese Westbury.
"It was right where I like it, belt high," Rhodes said. "I was nervous when I got up there, but I'm nervous every time I go to the plate."
Hunter was mobbed at the plate.
The Hurricanes grabbed a 1-0 lead when Shaquille Richardson walked and Matt Burton sinlged with no outs. Larson Walker walked to load the bases and Hunter walked on five pitches to force Richardson home.
But Collins coaxed a double play as the Raiders kept the Hurricanes from having a big inning.
The Raiders answered in the fourth when Collins led off the inning with a triple to right field. He later scored on Nick McAlhaney's single up the middle to tie the game at 1.