In February, before the season began, Myrtle Beach coach Tim Christy told his players that he wanted them playing their best baseball in April.
That hasn’t been a problem for the Seahawks.
“We’re throwing strikes, we’re having quality at-bats and we’re playing good defense,” said Christy, whose team took down Region VI-AAA rival St. James 9-5 Friday. “That’s what you have to do this time of year.”
On Friday, the Sharks – who entered the game first in the region standings at 6-1 – jumped on Myrtle Beach for two runs in the first inning.
Then, the momentum shifted.
Cameron Bodge had a single and Zack Coble followed with a double to start things in the Seahawks’ big second inning. Bodge scored on an error and Jayce Allen drove in Coble on an RBI single to tie it at 2.
Luke Edwards picked up an RBI as he drew a bases-loaded walk, and Jackson Thomas had an RBI groundout to cap the big frame as Myrtle Beach took a 4-2 lead and command of the contest.
“It was a momentum changer,” Christy said of the second inning. “In baseball, momentum is everything because it’s such a difficult game to come back in. It’s not like you can get on a hot streak like in basketball; you have to come out and string hit after hit after hit together, and that’s why that was so big in the second inning.”
St. James added a run in the bottom half of the second inning as Jordan Fields had an RBI groundout, but the Seahawks kept it going in the third as Coble scored on a Jay Morris sac fly to give them another two-run lead.
Myrtle Beach then scored twice in each the fourth and fifth innings to run away with it as the Sharks couldn’t catch up.
Michael Calamari was 3-for-5 with an RBI, and Coble was 2-for-4 to pace the Seahawks’ offense. Coble also picked up the win on the mound as he let up three runs (two earned) on one hit and four walks over three innings.
“We swung the bat well and we threw strikes,” said Christy, whose team avenged an early season loss to the Sharks. “We had some key hits and we have some guys coming around who haven’t been necessarily been swinging the bat well. That’s what you have to do; you have to make plays, you have to get key hits and you have to throw strikes.”
St. James starter Grayson Stoneking received the loss as he gave up seven runs (five earned), seven hits, walked four and failed to record a strikeout over three innings of work. Stoneking led the Sharks at the plate as he was the only player with multiple hits, going 2-for-3 with two RBIs.
With the loss, St. James fell into a tie with Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach for first place in the region. All have clinched a spot in the playoffs, but each team is battling for position with just two region contests remaining.
“We felt like we had a good chance to get a leg up on everyone with this win, and [Myrtle Beach was] playing like North Myrtle Beach was the last time we played them,” said Centracchio, whose team fell to the Chiefs last week for their first region loss. “This was their chance to still be in the hunt and they wanted to win. You have to give them credit for putting the ball in play early on and for making plays.”
With just a contest at Wilson on Tuesday and a home game Friday against Lake City remaining, Centracchio knows his Sharks can’t get complacent.
“Even though it’s still late in the season, it’s still a learning experience for these kids,” he said. “We have a good mixture of young guys and some senior veterans, and we’re still working on how to battle and fight when things go bad.”
Meanwhile, Christy and the Seahawks will look to continue their run through April as the team hosts Georgetown on Tuesday and travels to play North Myrtle Beach on Friday.
“I love this time of year and our kids love this time of year. We knew coming in tonight that we needed to win and our kids came out and put it on the line like we expected them to, and we’re going to leave here with a win with two huge games left next week,” Christy said. “Tuesday is a trap game, because you’re coming off a big win against your biggest rival, who was in first place. We have to come out and finish the deal next week. We love this time of year, and we’re going to continue to come out and work hard and see what happens.”
▪ WP: Zack Coble. LP: Grayson Stoneking. Top hitters: MB, Michael Calamari 3-5, RBI; Coble 2-4. SJ, Stoneking 2-3, 2 RBIs; Jordan Fields 1-4, RBI, 2 runs; Liam Bloom 1-2, RBI, 2 runs.
▪ Records: Myrtle Beach N/A (6-2 Region VII-AAA), St. James 14-7 (6-2).