Gilbert and Mid-Carolina enter tonight’s Region 3-2A baseball finales guarding against looking ahead to a special Friday playoff game to determine the region’s No. 1 seed in the Class 2A state playoffs that begin on April 30.
The Indians and Rebels share first place with 8-1 records, and figure to have no trouble tonight against the region’s bottom two teams. Gilbert (15-4 overall) hosts Strom Thurmond, while Mid-Carolina has perhaps a more demanding test in a rivalry game against Newberry, which can salvaged something from a forgettable season with an upset.
Gilbert has been hot of late, winning six in a row and nine of 10 outings since suffering a 2-1 region loss to Mid-Carolina on March 24. During the surge, the Indians stayed in the hunt for yet another region pennant by downing Mid-Carolina 3-0 in the second-half rematch last Friday and completing a sweep of third-place Batesburg-Leesville with an eight-inning, 6-5 triumph on Tuesday.
Gilbert’s David Padgett out-dueled C.J. Edwards of Mid-Carolina in the second mound confrontation of the of the season between the respective aces. Edwards, a sophomore right-hander, limited the Tribe to just two hits and struck out 12 in the first outing vs. Gilbert, while Padgett was nearly as good while allowing five hits and fanning seven. In the rematch, Padgett fired a three-hitter with 10 strikeouts, while Edwards served up only four hits and had eight whiffs.
Gilbert took a Dylan Skinner and Padgett scored in the bottom of the third inning for a 2-0 Tribe lead. Skinner walked, stole second and scored on a bad throw on his subsequent steal of third base. Padget walked, raced to third on an error and scored on Matt Stegall’s perfect squeeze bunt. M-C cut the deficit to 2-1 in the sixth on a RB single by Alex Bedenbaugh in the top of the sixth. Padgett quell a big inning by fanning Edwards with the bases load for the final out. The Rebels had two runners on base in the top of the seventh, but Padgett induced Bedenbaugh to ground into a game-ending double play.
The Indians and the B-L Panthers played to a 3-3 draw for seven innings on Tuesday before things broke loose in the eighth. Gilbert plated three runs off Panthers ace Scott Price in the top half, a moved capped by Stegall’s two-run single. B-L made things interesting in its final turn against Padgett, pulling within one run on a two-run hit by Jace Grandy.
Padgett could get the call against the Rebels again on Friday, if Friday tie-breaking game for seeding purposes at M-C is necessary. But he probably will be opposed this time by veteran Rebels right-hander Krishawn Holley, who has struggled at times this spring.
Batesburg-Leesville (14-6, 5-4) will be the region’s No. 3 playoff seed, not matter tonight’s outcome vs. Saluda in the Panthers’ regular-season finale.