White Knoll ended Irmo’s run in the state baseball playoffs on Wednesday at Strother Sligh Field with a doubleheader sweep to secure the District 7-4A championship and move on to the postseason Elite Eight for the fifth time in program history.
The Timberwolves, who fell into the district loser’s bracket with a 7-2 semifinal setback against the Yellow Jackets, forced a decisive second game with a five-inning, 14-2 romp in the opener and secured the title by holding on for a 5-4 win in the nightcap.
“It was an adventure there at the end, but we got two great efforts from our starting pitchers and that, ultimately, was the difference,” White Knoll coach Brooks Shumake said.
Blake Roland pitched four innings of shutout, one-hit ball in the opener before Irmo plated two runs in the last inning off the bullpen. In the nightcap, John Robert Rodgers pitched into the seventh with a 5-2 lead. He was lifted after issuing a one-out walk. Shumake turned first to Roland and then to left-hander Ricky Harrison to get the final two outs. Roland faced two batters, hitting one with a pitch. Harrison gave up an RBI single to Robbie Morris and threw a wild pitch that resulted in another run to cut the lead to one run before he got Jackets cleanup man Matt Pontikas to fly out to right field.
Shortstop Carl Wise had a productive twin bill for the Timberwolves. He hit a three-run homer in the opener. For the day, he was 3-for-3 with six runs scored and four RBIs, drew three walks and had a sacrifice fly.
Roland improved to 4-1, Rodgers upped his mound mark to 5-0, and Harrison came through for his first save of the season. Harrison also smacked a three-run homer that proved to be the game-winner in the second game.
White Knoll (22-6) opens the Lower State tournament at Ashley Ridge on Saturday.
Irmo, the district No. 4 seed, scored road upsets of Wando and White Knoll in the first two rounds to move within one win of advancing out of the district phase for the first time since 2003, but the magic ran out in the finale.
“My guys showed plenty of pride and character, bouncing back from that first game and falling behind early in the second to give us a chance at the end,” said Yellow Jackets coach Ray Canady, whose team finished 8-15.