Chapin edges River Bluff in pitchers’ dual of future Gamecock, Tiger
Tuesday’s latest Region 5-5A battle in The Swamp pitted two pitchers who are heading to the state’s two largest rivaled colleges.
Taking the mound for host team River Bluff was Ricky Williams, a righthanded commitment to Clemson University. Opposing him was Chapin righthander and University of South Carolina commit Cade Austin.
Through seven innings, the two nearly matched each other with strikeouts and hits allowed. A pair of early errors, however, enabled Chapin to take an early lead and hold on for the 2-1 victory.
The Eagles improved to 8-5 overall, but more importantly, 6-1 in Region 5-5A.
“That was definitely a fun game,” Austin said. “One of the best we’ve been in this year.” Austin finished with 12 strikeouts and allowed just two hits in six and one-third innings. Both hits came off the bat of Noah Lebron, including a leadoff solo home run in the Top second.
Those were the lone blemishes for Austin, who also issued just one walk in the game. “My first pitch tonight, obviously was a mistake,” he said. “You can’t really make too many mistakes in (Class) 5A. You see what happens. It just set a fire in me not to let it happen (again). I was determined not to give up another hit.”
Chapin took a 2-0 thanks in part to three errors by the Gators in the top first. With runners on first and third and Austin at the plate, the Eagles attempted a double steal in which Michael Becker reached second base safely and the catcher misplayed the baseball.
This allowed Chris Veach, who reached on a leadoff single, to safely reach home. Austin then hit a groundball that was fielded for an error by Noah Lebron at shortstop and allowed Veach to score.
Like Austin, Williams was unfazed and held the Gators mostly off the basepaths the rest of the way. He finished with 11 strikeouts, walked just one and allowed just one hit after the first inning.
River Bluff mounted a final rally in the bottom seventh. Cameron Ferrell reached fist on a walk and pinch runner Drew Beard promptly stole second base.
Williams faced Austin at the plate and hit a groundball fielded by Veach at shortstop. He attempted to throw out Beard at third base, but the ball was dropped during the rundown.
Chapin head coach Scott McLeod replaced Austin with reliever Drew Highfill. With the Gators a base hit away from a walkoff win, he got both William Chastain and Ethan Tyler to strike out swinging to end the game.
Game two of the three-game series is set for Wednesday in Chapin.