Less that two weeks ago, the Brookland-Cayce baseball team was mired in a slump that threatened to ruin what was supposed to be a memorable season.
The Bearcats, ranked No. 1 in the coaches preseason Class 3A poll, started off 2-0, including a win over highly regarded Chapin in the first game of the Region 5-3A campaign. But after dropping six of the next eight games, B-C found itself at the crossroads.
“It wasn’t any one thing,” said Bearcats coach Brian Hucks. “At times, we didn’t pitch well, or didn’t hit the ball well or didn’t play well in the field. It was frustrating, but my kids are battlers and we just kept plugging away to turn things around.”
Tuesday night, the Bearcats showed real signs of life in a key 8-5 region win over visiting Midland Valley. B-C now stands at 7-6 overall, 4-4 in region play.
“We needed this one,” said Hucks. “This gives us a chance to really get back into the region race. The way things are in this region, we can theoretically finish anywhere from first to sixth and not make the playoffs. Hopefully, we’re heading in the right direction again.”
The teams traded runs in the first inning before Brookland-Cayce took command with a five-run burst in the second inning. The big blow was a three-run home run to right center field by senior pitcher Chase Shelton. The impressive, no-doubt blast proved to be the game-winning hit.
Shelton went 5.1 innings to pick up the win, and Tanner Petrey nailed it down with a 1.2-inning save that was marred only by one walk.
“Midland Valley kept chipping away and we never felt comfortable until we got the last out, but that’s the way it is in the region,” said Hucks. “We still made some mistakes but the bottom line was we got a win we had to have.”
Every Bearcat in the lineup but one contributed something offensively to the win – a hit, a run scored or a RBI. Plus, sophomore catcher Michael Sexton, who did not bat, had a key defensive play in the top of the sixth inning, picking off a MV runner at second base to help defuse a budding Mustang rally.
Zack Warner and Daniel Branham were the offensive headliners behind Shelton. Warner went 3-for-3 and drove in the first B-C run of the game with a two-out single in the first. Branham singled and scored in the second the second and drove in the final B-C run with a single in the fifth.
John Long and Petrey also drove in runs in the big second-inning move. Long’s sacrifice fly plated Branham to get things started. Petrey followed with a single to score Hunter Watts.
The Bearcats are entered in the South Carolina Diamond Invitational tournament at Blythewood. The inaugural event runs Thursday through Sunday.
Region 5-3A baseball standings
A.C. Flora 5-2, Chapin 5-3, Midland Valley 7-4, Airport 5-5, Brookland-Cayce 4-4, Dreher 3-4, Lower Richland 0-7.