High School Sports

Hammond begins title quest today

SCISA Region 2-3A champion Hammond opens its quest for a SCISA baseball state championship today when it hosts Hilton Head Christian in a second-round doubleheader.

The Skyhawks (18-3) drew a first-round bye as the No. 1 seed in the Class 3A Upper Bracket. The Eagles advanced by beating Laurence Manning 9-8 on Tuesday after splitting a doubleheader with the Swampcats in Manning on Monday.

Hammond brings a potent attack into postseason play. The Skyhawks put together a .323 team batting average and scored 173 runs during the regular season. Kyle George, Kyle Towles, Raymond Prince and Jay Talbot have been the offensive headliners. George enters the playoffs with a .463 batting average with 31 runs, 30 RBIs, seven double, three home runs and 22 steals. Towles is hitting .458 with 32 runs, six doubles and 18 steals. Prince is batting .508 with 17 runs, 19 RBIs, 10 doubles and 15 swipes. Talbot is hitting .313 with 15 runs, 25 RBIs and four homers. Les Cotter (.306, 15 runs, 11 steals), Hunter George (.289, 17 runs) and Brooks Borders (. 516, nine RBIs) have also posted notable numbers.

Hammond will rely heavily on pitchers James Walkup, Andrew Lamb and Kyle Grant in the postseason. Walkup is 5-0 with a 3.03 ERA, Lamb is 5-2 with a 2.54 ERA and Grant is 5-0 with a 2.05 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 30 innings of work.

Heathwood Hall, meanwhile, begins second-round play with a doubleheader today in Bishopville against Region 3-3A champion at Robert E. Lee. The Highlanders (13-7) swept Florence Christian in a first-round doubleheader at home on Monday. The Cavaliers, who drew a first round bye, enter the playoffs with a 13-5 record.

The first game could feature a match between the respective teams’ pitching aces – Melton Bristow of Heathwood Hall (5-2, 1.80 ERA, 62 K) and Jeffrey Tallent of REL (5-1, 1.27 ERA). Bristow and Tallent are also top hitters. Bristown is hitting .368 with 19 runs, 14 RBIs and 14 doubles. Tallent is batting .393.

Tyler Jackson is the Cavs’ most feared hitter after compiling a .417 batting average with 19 RBIs and six home runs during the regular season.