CONWAY — One swing was all it took.
South Carolina won the second game of the South Carolina/North Carolina Select Baseball All-Star series 4-0 Friday almost entirely on the strength of White Knoll third baseman Carl Wise’s first-inning grand slam. The opposite-field shot into the right-field stands at Coastal Carolina’s Watson Stadium brought in three runners who had been put on base via walks and a hit batter.
“I knew I hit it good, but I guess the wind took it, carried it a little bit,” Wise said.
It was a big amount of offense in a game that featured little otherwise.
Sandlapper pitchers combined to allow just three North Carolina hits. Likewise, the Tar Heels hurlers looked fairly sharp for most of the day, save for that pitch Wise took deep. Charlotte, N.C., area pitcher and Clemson commit Brody Koener did not give up a hit in two innings, and all-star teammates Keaton Haack and Will Gilbert combined to give up that lone hit throughout the duration.
“I really didn’t notice it,” Wise said of the lack of offense. “I thought we were getting hits all the time. Then in the sixth inning, they said ‘Good thing you got that hit.’ ”
The South Carolina pitchers, however, were even more impressive.
Conner Owings, Andrew Tomosovich and Austin Livingston gave up three hits – a pair of first-inning singles and a seventh-inning single – and kept the Tar Heel batters at bay. That effort made sure Wise’s home run was more than enough to earn the win and he wound up earning South Carolina MVP honors.
Coastal Carolina signee and Byrnes shortstop Alex Cunningham, the Class AAAA Player of the Year this spring, was 0 for 3 from the plate Friday, although it certainly won’t be his last opportunity to play in Conway.
“It’s kind of like a preview,” Cunningham said. “I got a chance to play in a great complex, and I’m really looking forward to playing here.
His selection to the Select games also gave him an opportunity to play in Watson Stadium before a major facelift commences in the coming weeks. A $10.2 million project that was approved in January will improve the grand stands, coaching offices and concessions, three needs for the CCU program.
After a year of construction, the new venue will be ready for Cunningham’s sophomore season.
“When I committed, I don’t even think I had heard a word about them building a new stadium,” he said. “But I’m definitely excited about it. I saw the layout, and it’s going to be sweet.”
• W – Connor Owings. L – Keaton Haack. Top Hitters: SC – Carl Wise 1-2, home run, HBP, 4 RBI; Conner Owings 0-1, 2 BB, SB. NC – Landon Lassiter 1-3; Jackson Campana 1-3; Matt Lowry 1-3.