West Ashley baseball advances to HIT finals

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Hanahan High’s home baseball venue — Sportsman’s Field — is known as a hitter-friendly park due to relatively short fences. The field lived up to its billing on Wednesday night in the two semifinal games of the 46th annual Hanahan Invitational Tournament.

Four teams combined to hit seven home runs in the two games, setting up a championship matchup between West Ashley and Dobyns-Bennett of Kingsport, Tenn., on Thursday night.

An eight-run scoring outburst in the fifth inning lifted West Ashley to a 17-7 win over Wando in one semifinal game, sending the Wildcats to their first-ever appearance in the championship game of the event.

West Ashley (12-1) will face Dobyns-Bennett, who knocked off host Hanahan, 6-0, in the other semifinal matchup.

West Ashley and Wando put on quite the power display in their game as the two Region 7-AAAA foes combined to belt four home runs and pound out 20 hits. The Wildcats tallied 13 hits, including seven safeties in the decisive fifth inning.

“I told the guys coming into the game that there would be some runs scored today,” said West Ashley’s first-year head coach Tyson Azevedo, a former Wando assistant. “I knew it had the potential for a back-and-forth game and as long as we stayed consistent and continued to battle, I figured we would have a chance.”

West Ashley used a six-run second inning — highlighted by Connor Wohnig’s three-run homer — to take a 6-4 lead. Wando had taken a 4-0 lead in the top of the inning on Kep Brown’s three-run blast to center.

Owen Ravenel belted a three-run shot in the third to give Wando a 7-6 lead, and West Ashley tied the game with an RBI groundout by Anthony Vincelli in the bottom of the third.

Caleb Goude’s grand slam was the big blow of West Ashley’s fifth inning as the Wildcats sent 12 hitters to the plate. Wohnig added a double in the inning, then ended the contest due to the 10-run mercy rule with a two-run double in the sixth.

In the nightcap, Dobyns-Bennett hit three home runs — two by Hunter Wolfe – to end Hanahan’s chances of reaching the finals. Right-hander Darius Peterson limited the Hawks to three hits in the complete game effort. The Indians also got a two-run homer from Caleb Cook in the top of the first inning.

The Wildcats reached the semifinals with a win over Patriot, Va., earlier in the day, while Dobyns-Bennett defeated Berkeley in a Wednesday morning quarterfinal matchup.

Hanahan defeated Stratford, 3-2, earlier on Wednesday to earn a berth in the semifinals, while Wando advanced with a win over Riverside.

The junior varsity championship game between Wando and Summerville will be at 5 p.m. with the varsity championship game slated for 7:30 p.m.

Dobyns-Bennett will seek to snap a four-game championship streak by a Lowcountry team. Summerville, which won the last two tournament titles, was not in this year’s field.