Hartsville Stunned in State Championship
By: Don Gearhart
Hartsville Red Foxes ran the gauntlet through the 4A Lower State Championship brackets and faced the Eastside Eagles in the State Championship best-of-three series. The game started out as a pitching battle with two Clemson signees squaring off. Mavis Graves and Cam Canarella seemed evenly matched through three innings although Eastside did manage to score a run in the second inning. Then, the wheels fell off as the Eagles put eleven batters to the plate in each of the fourth and fifth innings scoring six times in each frame. With a 13-0 lead Eastside just needed to hold the Red Foxes to less than four runs in the bottom of the fifth to claim a victory.
Graves had other ideas and retired the side in order, striking out two of his eight total strikeouts in the run-rule shortened contest. Peter Mershon was 4-4 for the Eagles, scoring three times and driving in five runs. Graves and Lane Schrader each collected three hits while Cayden Erwin and Jack Davis each had two hits. Canarella and Josh Jones had the only two hits for Hartsville who were limited to only four baserunners the entire game.
Facing elimination and with two rain related postponements, the Hartsville Red Foxes finally were given the chance to redeem themselves and even the State Championship series and force a Game 3. The Red Foxes started strong in the first inning when Cam Canarella walked, stole second base, and scored on a Josh Jones base hit. Eastside responded in the bottom of the first by sending ten batters to the plate. On a combination of base hits and free passes, the Eagles scored six times and this looked like another Game 1 to the Hartsville faithful.
Hartsville managed to score a run again in the second inning when Roddi Morris doubled and scored on a base hit by Treion McFarland. The score remained 6-2 in favor of Eastside until the bottom of the fourth when Cayden Erwin singled and Brody Fowler blasted a homerun to right field that increased the Eagles lead to 8-2.
With their backs against the wall, the Red Foxes responded in a big way. Jackson Moore singled, Jones got aboard on an error, Quez Hadley doubled to score Moore. Ryan Thompson singled to drive in Jones and move Hadley to third base. Hadley scored on a wild pitch before Garrett Parker walked. Ryan Jordan then doubled to drive in another run. Morris hit a sacrifice fly with Parker scoring to add to the Hartsville total. Canarella was intentionally walked. Moore collected his second hit of the inning to drive home Jordan and Jones delivered a run with a base hit. Hadley walked to load the bases but a strikeout ended the inning but not before Hartsville had put thirteen batters to the plate and scored seven times to take a 9-8 lead.
Eastside managed to tie the score in their half of the fifth when a base hit, a walk, a hit-by-pitch all enabled a run to score on a wild pitch.