Socastee starter Bubba Martin recorded only out for the Braves baseball team before departing the mound against Darlington on Friday.
Coach Curtis Hudson put Dylan Thompson in the game – and boy, did it pay off.
Thompson struck out eight and allowed only one hit and one walk in 4 1/3 innings, and the Braves’ offense rallied on the way to a 12-2 run-rule shortened win against the Falcons in the opening round of the district playoffs.
“That’s what we expected,” Hudson said. “We were trying not to throw [Thompson] because we’re a little better in the field when he’s not pitching. You got to throw strikes and Bubba wasn’t throwing strikes. So we made a decision and Bubba stepped up and played in the field like he’s supposed to so it didn’t hurt anything, Dylan pitched like he did all year.”
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The Braves got down early as Darlington’s Hayes Goodson and Jalen Durant each hit RBI singles to put the Falcons ahead by two runs. But from that point on, the Braves seemed unstoppable.
“We didn’t start well tonight, but we played well after the first inning,” Hudson said. “We have to play well for seven innings next game. Can we do it? Yeah, we can do it. We have to come out ready to play.”
Socastee came ready to play on Friday, lining twelve hits off the Falcons. Hunter Renfrow went 3-for-5 with a double and a home run with two runs scored and three RBIs, Finn Melko went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and Buck Bacot went 2-for-2 with two runs driven in. Even Thompson had a good day at the plate, finishing 2-for-4.
“We hit the ball,” Hudson said. Sometimes you hit the ball and sometimes you don’t. We hit a ton everyday at practice, we hit a ton today, and we’ll hit a ton when we get there. A lot of times the pitcher has a lot to do with whether you hit the ball or not. We’re just trying to put good quality at-bats together. If we do that, we have to win. Sometimes you hit it where they aren’t and sometimes you hit it where they are.”
Darlington starter Keshawn Samuels got roughed up for six runs on six hits and four walks. But Hudson credited the Falcons for not giving up.
“They played solid,” he said. “They had a couple of bad innings with some errors and some walks. I’ve seen them play in the playoffs the last two years and I told my guys, ‘they’re not going to get down, it doesn’t matter what the score was.’ I was pleased that we finished the game. A lot of times we don’t finish the game strong but we finished it tonight like we’re supposed to.”
Now the Braves are faced with a tall task. Socastee will take on a 19-2 Berkeley squad, which has only lost one region game all year.
“It’s going to be tough,” Hudson said. “But we have a great group of kids that can do a lot.”
• W–Dylan Thompson. L–Keshawn Samuels. Top hitters – DAR: Hayes Goodson 1-3, RBI; Jalen Durant 1-3, RBI. SOC: Hunter Renfrow 3-5, 2B, HR, 3 RBIs, 2 R; Finn Melko 2-3, 2 RBIs; Thompson 2-4; Buck Bacot 2-2, 2 RBIs.
Records – Socastee 18-8.