– For all the things St. James did right – including scoring twice in the seventh to force extra innings – it couldn’t quite overcome a lack of timely hitting early.
The Sharks lost 6-5 to Brookland-Cayce in nine innings in the winners’ bracket of the Class AAA District playoffs Tuesday. St. James left 15 runners on base. Any number of those getting pushed across the plate would have prevented the situation it now faces.
The game, which took place at the Ripken Experience after St. James’ home field was left unplayable from rains Monday and Tuesday, was a body blow for a team attempting to qualify for its sixth straight Lower State tournament.
And at least for the few moments after the game, that’s what coach Robbie Centracchio was still planning on his team still accomplishing.
“You look back at decisions you made. You look back at things that cost your team to score runs. You look at ways you could have scored runs,” coach Robbie Centracchio said. “But when you battle like we did, I was proud of the way we battled. One of things we’ve focused on this year is looking forward. I could have looked back to any inning – if we did that we win; if we did this we win. But when your kids battle like that after making mistakes, there’s nothing else you can ask of them.”
Actually, he’s not done asking more of them.
The Sharks will play Hilton Head at home Wednesday. Both teams will be facing elimination, and that’s something the Seahawks are sick of. St. James has defeated Hilton Head three times in the last two years during the playoffs and eliminated the Seahawks both times.
Centracchio and St. James Athletics Director Paula Lee both said they weren’t sure if the Sharks’ home field would be ready to go Wednesday. It could mean another trip to Ripken or another area site.
Either way, the road back to the Lower State won’t end there. The winner will still have to head to Brookland-Cayce on Friday and win two games.
The Bearcats certainly earned that rite, especially in the last three innings. After chasing St. James starter Anders DeShields in the seventh with a pair of runs, they added another off reliever Casey Crooks.
The Sharks tied it up in the bottom of the seventh off RBI singles from Zach Sanders and Caleb Duggan. Brookland-Cayce then scored two more in the top of the ninth off pinch-hitter Spencer McCarty’s two-RBI single.
St. James managed only one run in the bottom of the frame, setting up another postseason rematch with Hilton Head.
“We kind of let the moment get to us,” Centracchio said. “This was a big moment. Playing on a new field in front of a big crowd against a good team that’s gone back and forth with so many big plays… You almost want to sit back and watch it in replay.”
Contact IAN GUERIN at firstname.lastname@example.org.