River Bluff advances to Lower State final
A “three-peat” as S.C. High School League Class 5A Lower State baseball champions is just a victory away for River Bluff.
The Gators stormed back from an early deficit to defeat Summerville 9-3 Saturday at home. It was the 10th straight overall win and seventh straight post-season victory in The Swamp. More important, River Bluff (22-5) will get to await its Lower State final opponent Wednesday at home.
Summerville capitalized off two River Bluff errors in taking a 3-0 lead in the Top third. The Gators responded with a four-run rally in the bottom of the inning, capped by a two-out, two-run blast over the leftfield fence by Preston Sansone off Green Wave starter Tripp White.
“To see our guys battle back and come back and put a four spot up right after that,” River Bluff head coach Mark Bonnette said. “We get a big leadoff walk (by Alex Urban) and then, we get a (RBI) double by Cam (Ferrell) and then Sansome smokes a ball, hits a two-run homer to really give ourselves that boost of putting us right were we need to be. So, (it was a) big inning.”
“Coach says look for your pitch every time and that’s what I did,” Sansone said. “Fastball. Right down the middle.”
Clemson University commit Ricky Williams had an RBI fielder’s choice in the Bottom fourth to make it 5-3. The Green Wave threatened in the Top sixth as leftfielder Brandon Powell and University of South Carolina commit catcher Cole Messina hit back-to-back singles off starter Jack Benedict.
Despite having two strikes against Brodie Blanton, Benedict was replaced by Brayden Fowler. He promptly got Blanton to ground out to Ferrell at second base to end the rally.
The Gators responded with four runs in the bottom half of the inning off Summerville’s relievers. It started after Williams belted a bases-loaded RBI single.
Jacob LeBron scored when Powell misplayed a flyball in leftfield, Ferrell drove in his 2nd run of the contest and Ethan Pyler singled home Williams.
Fowler retired Summerville in order to end the game.
Summerville (22-10) will play host Monday to Dutch Fork starting at 5 p.m. The Silver Foxes defeated St. James 7-1 on the road as Jay Metts and Lance Fuhr each had two-run doubles.
Bonnette is mindful of the potential of seeing Summerville again on Wednesday, given his team two years ago rallied through the loser’s bracket to win its first Class 5A Lower State title.
“Obviously for us, it’s one game at a time,” Bonnette said. “But, our kids are playing fearless. I want them to play and have fun. We’re obviously going to compete like crazy, but right now, our kids aren’t afraid to fail and that’s how you’ve got to play this game. This game is so hard, you’ve got to play it that way.”