Hammond senior Jake Nidiffer did his best Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams impression on Saturday in the SCISA Class 3A baseball playoffs.
Nidiffer came on in the seventh to save the Skyhawks quarterfinal-clinching victory over host Orangeburg Prep, but not without a few anxious moments. Nidiffer was summoned after starter William Love hit two Indians batters in a row after he retired the first OP man in the last inning. Nidiffer promptly issued two free passes to load the bases and force in a run to cut the Hammond lead to 4-3.
Unfazed, Nidiffer struck out the next two Indians he faced to seal the deal.
Hammond (20-6) opens a semifinal series on Tuesday at Folsom Field against Laurence Manning Academy at 5:30 p.m. The second game of the best-of-three series is in Manning on Wednesday with a third game, if necessary, scheduled Friday at a neutral site.
It was not an easy quarterfinal series for the favored Skyhawks, who entered the playoffs as the No. 1 seed. Hammond dropped the first game of doubleheader at home to OP, 13-8, before forcing a third game with a 9-3 win in the nightcap.
The decisive third game was marred by a rain delay of nearly an hour and a wet, muddy field.
Hammond was creative in scoring the run needs for victory as Indians pitcher Evan Graves served up only three hits.