Florence Post 1 came within a strike of repeating as American Legion baseball state champions, but Irmo-Chapin Post 193’s Justin Hawkins hit a game-winning 2-run single to cap a 6-5 comeback victory on Wednesday in the deciding game of the state tournament at Riley Park.
“It’s been the same all summer,” said Irmo-Chapin coach Kurt Seibert, whose team improved to 24-4 and advances to the Southeast Regional. “It can’t get more exciting than that and that’s why the game is the greatest game. I’m speechless just like I think everyone is because it was just so unbelievable.”
Post 1’s Alex Dorriety was working on a complete game when he was lifted for closer Zach McKay, who took the loss for Florence. Dorriety allowed two runs on eight hits while striking out two and walking two.
Irmo-Chapin loaded the bases as Cole Morris doubled to start the inning, then Tyler Lancaster walked and Brett Auckland singled after two outs. A Denton Hyman RBI single made it 5-3. Then, as Brandon White struck out on a wild pitch, Lancaster scored to make it 5-4 as White reached first. Hawkins singled down the right field line and Hyman beat the throw home to finish the rally.
“Everything in the world was going straight through my mind,” Hawkins said of his game-winning hit. “I couldn’t thank the Lord more for this day; there is nothing I can say.”
“We always knew we’re a good team and we can win any game if we’re down by 100 or down by 1 — that time it was by three — so we knew that we had a chance no matter what as long as there’s still outs left to play,” said White, the winner of the MVP pitcher award.
Offensively for Post 193, Auckland and Morris led the team with two hits apiece.
Florence seemed to take the momentum left over from Game 1’s 5-4, must-win victory to start the second game, leading 3-0 in the first inning. Post 1 took advantage of four hits and two Irmo-Chapin errors, highlighted by Zach Herndon’s RBI single and an RBI groundout by Logan McRae. Post 1 extended its lead on Fonta James’ sacrifice fly.
After Irmo got on the board in the in the bottom of the fifth to make it a 4-1 game, Post 1 added a run in the seventh thanks to an RBI single by McRae. CJ Hopkins reached third on two errors and scored on McRae’s hit.
“The guys played hard and for 18 innings they gave it everything they had and it came down to the last batter,” Post 1 coach Derick Urquhart said. “Unfortunately, that’s the sign of a good baseball game and somebody’s got to be on the losing end.”
Florence, which finished 27-13, fell shy of becoming the first team to win consecutive state titles since Sumter in 2005-06. Urquhart said he was proud of his team and the way it handled itself.
“I think we exceeded a lot of expectations this year, and we have nothing to hold our head about,” Urquhart said. “We were one strike away, and that’s just baseball; it’s a hard way to lose. This one will sting for a while and we’ll get into the offseason and get ready for next year.”
Lancaster picked up the win, pitching the final 71/3 innings, holding Florence to two runs on six hits while walking two, hitting a batter and striking out two.
Post 193 scored in the fifth thanks to an RBI single by Auckland, and Chad Davis scored in the seventh when Auckland reached on an error.
Offensively for Post 1, Tallon Turner, James, McRae and Maclean Hartz each had two hits. McRae had two RBIs while James added one.
In Game 1, CJ Hopkins’ RBI single capped a 2-run, game-winning comeback victory.
Trailing 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth, Turner singled to begin the inning and was sacrificed to second by James. After a walk to Austin King, Herndon reached on a fielder’s choice as King was forced out at second, putting runners at the corners with two outs. A passed ball allowed Turner to score and, after Herndon stole second, Hopkins’ double to deep right field ended the game.
Florence’s Kam Dixon kept Irmo-Chapin at bay, allowing one run on one hit — an RBI double to White, which gave Post 193 a 4-3 lead in the seventh — while walking two and striking out a batter to earn the win.
McRae led Post 1 with three hits, including two doubles.
Florence led 3-0 after four innings, but Irmo tied the game with three runs in the fifth and then took a 4-3 lead in the seventh.
Post 193’s bullpen allowed three hits over the final three innings after starter Hunter Hill allowed three runs on five hits while walking five and striking out two.