At 6 p.m. Thursday, Dylan Doolittle came off the mound following the top of North Myrtle Beach’s first inning against Wilson. Thirty-one minutes later, he went back out for the start of the top of the second.
The Chiefs bats ensured there was no real rush for the rest of the game.
Following a 10-run first in which North Myrtle Beach sent 14 batters to the plate, the Chiefs formally clinched a playoff berth on Thursday with a 15-0, run-rule victory over Wilson. In the next eight days, Brian Alderson’s team will see if it has what it takes to position itself even better for the postseason.
“I didn’t know if it was feasible, but that was our goal,” Alderson said of what stands as a reasonable shot at winning the region championship. “I’ve told them since day one that just making the playoffs was not good enough in my book.”
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In order to do that, the Chiefs will have to navigate their way through a logjam at the top of the region. Following Thursday’s win, St. James was 6-1, North Myrtle Beach and Myrtle Beach were tied for second at 5-2 and Lake City was just behind them at 4-3.
The Chiefs have already split the season series with St. James, meaning North Myrtle Beach has what it takes to do its part the rest of the way. The outburst over the downtrodden Tigers, though, also showed North Myrtle Beach has plenty left in the tank.
The double-digit first inning included eight different Chiefs scoring at least one run, and by the time there was one out in the second, all nine starters had done so. Shortstop Chase Hudson, who reached base on a pair of hits and a pair of walks, scored three times. Centerfielder Matt McGhee, Michael Genovese, Doolittle and Jarrett Lewis each crossed home plate twice.
According to available online records, it was the Chiefs’ largest margin of victory and most runs in a game since it defeated Mullins 19-4 on March, 12, 2011
“I didn’t know our offense would be as good as it is right now,” Hudson said. “It’s big knowing that we could compete with any other team in the region.”
North Myrtle Beach, which has its most wins in a season (12) since winning 17 games in 2012, has put itself in a spot to make good on those hopes. It will head to Georgetown Friday and Lake City on Tuesday before capping the regular season at home in its rivalry game against Myrtle Beach, another team it has already defeated once this year.
More than likely, the region title will come down to next Friday. And the Chiefs still look they’ll be in the discussion.
“Going into the season, I knew we were going to be better,” Alderson said. “At times, we put more time than we did in the previous season. But it’s been a fast turnaround, probably a little faster than I anticipated.”
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▪ W: Dylan Dolittle L: Ethan Dale Top hitters: Wilson: Zai Paul 1-2; Chris Turbeville 1-2. North Myrtle Beach: Jarrett Lewis 2-2, 2B, 3 RBI, 2 Runs; Chase Hudson 2-2, 2B, 2 BB, RBI, 3 Runs..
▪ Records: Wilson: 2-12, 0-7 Region VII-AAA; North Myrtle Beach: 12-5, 5-2.