Hammond opens a best-of-three SCISA Class 3A semifinal baseball series tonight at home against Pinewood Prep, weather permitting. The series is slated to shift to Summerville on Wednesday with a third game, if necessary, on Friday at a neutral site.
"Our field took a lot of rain overnight, but we have it in good shape now," said coach Ray Derrick at 2 p.m. today. "But if we get any more rain, we could be in trouble."
The 19-3 Skyhawks, who drew a first-round bye by being designated as the No. 1 seed in the Upper Bracket, had no easy time advancing to the semifinals. Hammond pulled out two hair-raising wins in a second-round doubleheader last Friday at home – prevailing 6-5 in eight innings in the opener, and them holding on for dear life to complete the sweep with a 9-8 win in the nightcap.
Kyle George drilled walk-off, bases-loaded single in the opener, and Andrew Lamb got the final out in the second game after HHC scored two runs in the seventh inning and had a runner in scoring position at second base.
“We were pretty much cruising with a 9-0 lead, then we couldn’t throw a strike, (HHC) hit the ball, and we starting kicking the ball around on defense,” said Derrick. “We were fortunate to get wins in both of those games. Pinewood is going to be a real test. If we play well, we can beat anybody, but if we don’t we won’t be around much longer.”
Pinewood Prep (18-7) finished second to Northwood Academy in SCISA Region 1-3A. The Panthers have plenty of offensive firepower from Laquan Gilliard (.311, 22 runs, 20 RBIs, five HRs), Austin Heflin (.311, 33 runs, 29 RBIs, 7 HRs) and Taylor Wall (.437, 22 runs, 33 RBIs, 10 HRs). The mound staff is deep and talented. Gilliard is 3-0 with a 1.79 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 27.1 innings. Heflin is 1-2 with two saves and a 2.40 ERA. Wall is 6-2 with a 3.15 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 33.1 innings. Alex Doucet is 5-1 with a 3.00 ERA.