USC commit drives in game-winning run in Chapin playoff win
The opening game of the Class 5A baseball playoffs Tuesday night at Chapin High School was quite literally a one-man show.
Pitcher Cade Austin had a near-perfect effort on the mound for the Eagles. He also accounted for his team’s lone runs, including a walkoff RBI fielder’s choice in the Bottom eighth of the 2-1 victory over Carolina Forest.
The University of South Carolina commit managed to beat the throw to first base and avoid an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded. It was a fitting ending to a contest which saw Austin strike out 10 on 84 pitches and retire 19 consecutive batters in six-and-one-third innings before allowing two hits in the Top seventh.
Afterwards, Austin credited his curveball and offspeed pitches for his effectiveness against the Panthers. He also acknowledged thinking about completing the possible perfect game and having to regroup once it was lost.
“Cade kept us in the game,” Chapin head coach Scott McLeod said. “We were lucky to win. When we did hit it, it was right at somebody and we’re not doing a very good job with our approach with people on base.”
The game was 0-0 through the first five innings as both Austin and Carolina Forest’s David Wellons controlled the game. Austin’s single accounted for the lone hit allowed by either pitcher during that span.
In the Bottom sixth, Chris Veach hit a leadoff single and managed to steal second and third base. With one out, Austin grounded a single into leftfield to break the scoreless tie.
On an 0-1 pitch, Josh Douglass sent a flyball into right-centerfield. As both Sam Greer and Tyler Teal converged towards the ball, it ended up falling on the ground and allowing Cox to reach homeplate.
“We’ve got a routine flyball in right-centerfield,” McLeod said. “Both of them are calling it. Neither one of them is listening, so they run together and the ball drops and messed up a really good game by Cade.”
Austin retired Carolina Forest in order in the Top eighth. Jarrett Whitley reached first after getting hit by Wellons and stole second and third base after a David Ross strikeout.
Mellons, who finished with seven strikeouts and allowed just three hits, was relieved by Douglass. He intentionally walked Veach and Teal to load the bases, setting the stage for Austin’s heroics. “We come up with the bases loaded and hit a bang-bang play at first base to end the game,” McLeod said. “That’s a tough way to do it. But sometimes, like I told the kids, you’ve got to be good in these playoffs. But, you’ve got to be lucky, too.”
Up next for Chapin is Summerville on Thursday, a 3-0 winner over Cane Bay.