Say what you will for all the talent the St. James baseball team has put on the field in the last five years.
But don’t argue with the Sharks’ ability to make opponents pay for their mistakes.
Coach Robbie Centracchio’s team scored three times following Myrtle Beach errors Saturday en route to a 4-2 victory on the road. It kept the Sharks in control of first place in Region VII-AAA and bumped Myrtle Beach down to third.
“When they make an error, we want to get runs off that,” St. James senior Anders DeShields said. “If they’re making mistakes, we’re going to make it worse. We get on it really quick and can get a rally going.”
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St. James (18-5, 7-1 Region VII-AAA) scored in the first after a throwing error on a sacrifice bunt attempt moved leadoff hitter Caleb Duggan over to third. All it took from there was a simple ground ball to bring Duggan home.
Duggan then reached base in the fifth, courtesy of another throwing error, stole second, moved to third on another single and then scored on anther ground out. Then, in the top of the seventh, another throwing error brought Duggan – who this time reached after being hit by a pitch – across the plate again.
It was more of the same for a team that has time and time again taken advantage of miscues.
“We’ve been fortunate enough to have a team that really buys into the ability to bunt and steal,” Centracchio said. “Caleb and Carter [Brakefield] and the speed demons. But the other guys, we work them on getting good jumps and bunting, and that adds a lot of pressure on the other team.”
DeShields, meanwhile, did his part in adding some frustration toward the Myrtle Beach (11-9, 5-3) lineup.
The College of Charleston commit struck out 12 Seahawks, including eight in the first four innings. He didn’t allow his first baserunner until he walked Seahawks first baseman Griffin Bethle in the bottom of the fifth. Bethle came around to score on Drayton Arnold’s fielder’s choice, and then Critter Collins recorded the Seahawks’ first hit with a one-out single that drove in Brandon Sinclair.
From there, DeShields faced just one more the minimum.
“With Anders, it seems like the teams we’re playing bringing more of their ‘A’ game,” Centracchio said. “We’re playing one-run games and their one-hitting them. They’re bunting and their stealing and they’re squeezing. With Anders throwing, they’re going outside the box and trying new things because he’s throwing so well.”
It all added up to St. James being in the pole position with just two region games left. The Sharks will play Wilson on Tuesday before the regular-season finale at Socastee on Friday.
The Sharks could claim the region title with a win in the latter or as early as Tuesday, should the Braves fall to North Myrtle Beach and St. James defeats Wilson.
“We’re coming together at the right time,” DeShields said. “We’re throwing really well. Hitting’s coming around. Defense is coming around great. Everything right now is working, and we’re not going to say much because we don’t want to jinx it.”
• Win – Anders DeShields. Loss – Jesse Nelson. Top Hitters – St. James: DeShields 1-3, 2B, BB, RBI; Caleb Duggan 1-2, BB, HBP, 2 SB, 3 Runs. Myrtle Beach: Drayton Arnold 0-3, RBI; Brandon Sinclair 0-2, BB, SB, Run; .
Records: St. James 18-5, 7-1 Region VII-AAA; Myrtle Beach 11-9, 5-3