The Aynor baseball team is playing like a family.
Coach Chad Sarvis hopes that this will help the Blue Jackets throughout the playoffs – and it certainly did on Thursday.
Aynor’s offense exploded, scoring seven runs in the third inning en route to an 11-1 win over Timberland in five innings during the opening round of the district playoffs.
“It’s always good to come out and get a good start in the playoffs,” Sarvis said. “Tonight we came out a little shaky to start. I felt like our kids were a little tight in our first playoff game but we settled in and played well. We hit the baseball well, got the barrel on a lot of balls. I’m just very pleased with our team; we’re playing as a family. Anytime you play together, the team chemistry can sometimes carry you a lot longer than talent.”
Blue Jackets starter Graham Herrington faced 16 batters in four innings of work and scattered three hits and walked one while only giving up one run.
“I thought I did well,” Herrington said. “I thought I located the ball real good. My team helped me out and did well at the plate.”
Quin Prosser started Aynor’s big third inning as he drove in Brandon Young on a single to give the Blue Jackets a 4-1 lead. Nathan Peeples drove in Prosser and Dylan Bagnel on a single to give Aynor a comfortable 6-1 lead, but the Blue Jackets kept piling it on. Herrington drove in Jordan Poston and Peeples on a single, and Lawton Hood drove in Herrington on a single to give Aynor a 9-1 lead.
Brandon Young capped the monster inning with an RBI single as the Blue Jackets jumped out to a 10-1 lead.
“We settled in, put the ball in play and had some consistent and timely hitting,” Sarvis said. “It was a total team effort, each kid made it happen not just one individual. Just very pleased with the team effort.”
Poston drove in the Blue Jackets’ final run in the bottom of the fourth as he singled in Prosser which gave Aynor an 11-1 advantage. Young finished 3-for-3 with two RBIs and one run scored, Peeples was 2-for-2 with a run scored and two RBIs and Herrington went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and two runs scored.
“It was terrific,” Herrington said of the offensive performance. “It was one of the best we’ve ever had.”
Said Aynor’s Zack Richardson: “All together we hit well as a team. I’m pretty confident that if we play well defensively I think we can pull through.”
Forcing a mercy rule in the opening round of the district playoffs gives Aynor some extra energy in the later rounds.
“I think it carries a lot of momentum,” Sarvis said. “Anytime you play only five innings it saves a lot of pitching and saves arms. It keeps the kids upbeat and going into the next game gives them some more confidence in themselves.”
The Blue Jackets will have to take on the winner of the Loris-Andrews game on Saturday.
“We got a rough road ahead of us,” Sarvis said. “We’re playing either Andrews or Loris next, they’re both very good teams. We have to carry this momentum from game to game and take it from there.”
Aynor is buying in on Sarvis’ belief of playing as a family.
“I think we if we stay like a family and get together and keep our pitching up I think we’ll go pretty far,” Herrington said.
• W–Graham Herrington. L–Ryan Hood. Top hitters – Timberland: Josh Winningham 1-2, R. Aynor: Herrington 2-3, 2 R, 3 RBIs; Brandon Young 3-3, R, 2 RBIs; Nathan Peeples 2-2, R, 2 RBIs.
Records – Timberland 12-8, Aynor 15-4.