It’s a horserace again in Region 5-4A baseball.
South Aiken pulled virtually even with front-running White Knoll on Tuesday night, handing the Timberwolves a shocking 10-0, five-inning defeat at the Wolf Den. The visiting Thoroughbreds improved to 6-1 in region play, 16-3 overall, while White Knoll fell to 15-2, 7-1 and saw its 15-game winning streak come to an end.
South Aiken ace Andrew Faulkner stifled the normally potent WK attack. The South-Carolina-bound senior left-hander fired a three-hitter with seven strikeouts. The Timberwolves can count on seeing Faulkner again next Tuesday in the rematch in Aiken.
“That’s a very good team and a very good pitcher,” said WK coach Jonny Thompson. “We knew we were going to have to beat South Aiken at least once to win the region and we still have that chance, but we’re going to have to regroup after this one.”
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South Aiken roughed up Timberwolves starter Caleb Backman for 10 runs and 11 hits in 2.2 innings. The T-Breds put two on the board in the second inning and erupted for eight runs on nine hits in the third. The big blow in the third was a three-run home run by John Leopard, but Blue Sanderson and Grayson Smith were also productive during the decisive surge. Sanderson stroked a single and a double, scored twice and drove in one run. Smith had two hits, scored once and had two RBIs.
“Caleb’s been very good for us this year, but he was missing his spots tonight and that’s something you just can’t get away with against a team with a tough lineup top to bottom,” said Thompson.
The Thoroughbreds tuned up for the key region showdown by winning the championship at the inaugural South Carolina Diamond Invitational by Blythewood last week.
“We played very well at the tournament, and that kind of propelled us,” said coach Bob Polewski. “I was most pleased with the way we swung at bats last week, and it kind of carried over for us. And Andrew pitched extremely well against a very power lineup. We did what we had to do to give ourselves a chance to win the (region) championship, but we’ve still got a long way to go.”
Prior to the rematch, White Knoll squares off against Lexington and South Aiken meets North Augusta on Friday.
White Knoll’s best chance to score came in the third when Robbie Streett and Chris Harrison hit back-to-back, two-out singles, but Faulkner ended the threat by getting Carl Wise to pop out.