Brian Alderson doesn’t know exactly when his team’s undefeated streak to start the 2017 baseball campaign will end.
And honestly, the prospect of such happening isn’t on the list of things on his mind. The North Myrtle Beach baseball coach is simply enjoying the ride.
After dismantling a solid Aynor squad last week, questions still lingered as to whether the Chiefs’ hot start was real. That was settled emphatically Tuesday evening, using a 3-run sixth inning to stun defending Lower State champion St. James, 3-1.
It assured North Myrtle Beach a win to start Region VII-4A play, which due to realignment consists of only five teams. As a result, it makes every game that much more important.
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“I knew going into the season, we’d be able to contend for a region title,” Alderson said. “That’s our goal. We want to win the region, and we want to play the last game that is played in South Carolina this year. I think that’s every coach’s goal, but that’s the game plan.”
In addition to starting the conference slate with a victory, North Myrtle Beach debuts at No. 1 in The Sun News’ Top 5 baseball poll.
While possessing the ability to spread the ball to every corner of the park, the Chiefs dug simplified things a bit against St. James, going with a “small ball” approach at a crucial moment in the game.
Down 1-0 in the sixth, a perfectly executed bunt allowed a pair of North Myrtle Beach runners to advance to second and third. Another the following batter would bring home a run, as St. James’ pitcher was unable to cleanly retrieve the ball.
The string of events would be the seeds to a rally, one that would inevitably lead to a Chiefs win.
“We executed two bunts, which we hadn’t done well all year,” Alderson said. “We hadn’t been able to bunt the ball well. And we happened to put it down and execute when we needed it.”
Without a strong effort from sophomore pitcher Dalton Simpson, however, one has to wonder if North Myrtle Beach would’ve had a chance to pull out the contest. He went 6 2/3 innings, giving up one run — unearned — while scattering four hits.
(Simpson) is our horse. He was our horse last year,” the Chiefs skipper said. “He’s just s sophomore, so we’ll have him two more years.
“But he just competes. The stage never gets too big for him. He does a good job of keeping his composure, and it showed (Tuesday night). For a young kid to come and throw like he did, says what he’s got inside of him.”
Also featured in the first poll of the season is Waccamaw, St. James, Aynor and Myrtle Beach.
Following a pair of impressive wins, Aynor debuts at the top spot in The Sun News’ Top 5 softball poll.
The Blue Jackets have scored in double figures twice this season, both result in wins.
Rounding out the “party of five” is St. James, Conway, Myrtle Beach and Georgetown.
The Sun News Baseball Top 5
1. North Myrtle Beach (6-0, 1-0 Region VII-4A): The last team without a blemish to its credit on the Grand Strand, Chiefs hold wins over both Aynor and St. James — teams that played for a state title last year.
2. Waccamaw (4-4, 1-0 Region VI-3A): In two of Warriors’ past three contests, pitcher Jaret Montenery has struck out 23 batters — both wins.
3. St. James (4-3, 0-1 Region VII-4A): Sharks’ three losses have come by a combined four runs.
4. Aynor (3-4, 1-0 Region VI-3A): Blue Jackets have yet to play a “complete” seven innings, but have found their way to wins in three of their past four.
5. Myrtle Beach (5-2, 1-0 Region VII-4A): Has shown both flair for dramatic, along with potential to be dominant — like the Seahawks’ 16-0 win over Wilson on Tuesday night.
The Sun News Softball Top 5
1. Aynor (2-1, 1-0 Region VI-3A): Blue Jackets have shown ability to score runs in bunches, crossing the plate 29 times in season’s first three contests.
2. St. James (5-3, 1-0 Region VII-4A): Sharks have become rather accustomed to tight games, with seven of their eight contests being decided by two runs or less.
3. Conway (3-2, 1-1 Region VI-5A): Tigers followed a tough loss Friday night to South Florence with a hard-fought victory over West Florence to even their mark in league play.
4. Myrtle Beach (3-1, 1-0 Region VII-4A): Carly Grace Bodge has been dominant in trio of pitching performances — each wins for the Seahawks.
5. Georgetown (4-3, 0-1 Region VI-3A): Following four straight wins to open season, Bulldogs have lost three in a row — giving up 10 runs or more in each game.