Hayden Franklin’s marching orders were simple as his strolled to home plate on Saturday evening.
A runner on first and one out, the Aynor first baseman was instructed to lay down a bunt in an effort to advance the runner into scoring position. However, neither of his two attempts were successful, forcing Franklin to shelf the initial plan.
Guess it was just meant to be.
Tied with rival Waccamaw in the bottom of the seventh, the Blue Jackets’ senior sent the 3-2 delivery of Reed Edwards over the left-field fence for a 3-1 win, allowing his team to survive another day in the Lower State 3A baseball tournament.
For Franklin, it was his first home run at the varsity level, giving Aynor its first and only win this season over the Warriors.
“I was going to bunt, that was my job originally,” he said. “I got to a 3-2 count so I was just trying to put it in play. I was expecting a curve ball, but (Edwards) threw a fast ball and I was able to time it up.”
It was the final salvo in a game dominated by the pitchers, as Waccamaw’s Edwards and Seth Ward of Aynor each went the distance.
On several occasions in the game, the Warriors had runners in scoring position. Particularly in the seventh, when a base hit, bunt, wild pitch and a hit batsman put runners on first and third with one out.
After a brief meeting with Aynor baseball coach Chad Sarvis, Ward settled in by retiring the next two Waccamaw batters to leave the inning unscathed.
“(Sarvis) just told me to throw strikes and not let them score,” the Aynor pitcher said. “… They’re a good team. But the Lord blessed us to play good, pitch good, and allowed us to come away with a win.”
Ward scattered four hits in seven innings of work, giving up one run. He struck out five while walking three in a winning effort.
As for Edwards, he allowed seven hits in 6 1/3 innings on the bump, striking out four while walking one Aynor batter. All three of the runs the Waccamaw hurler gave up came courtesy of the long ball, one to Ward in the fourth and Franklin’s to win the game for the Blue Jackets.
According to Waccamaw baseball coach Jeff Gregory, his pitcher didn’t make many mistakes Saturday evening. But the ones he did happen to make, he paid for.
“Reed’s thrown well for us all year,” he said. “Every time he’s pitched he throws strikes for us, doesn’t walk anybody … really kept us in the ballgame. I thought we had opportunities in the top of the seventh to maybe scratch one across, but it didn’t work out for us.”
With the win, Aynor now moves on to play Lake City, which has beaten the Blue Jackets in two of the teams’ three meetings this season — including a 6-0 win on Friday night.
“We haven’t played well (at Lake City) all year,” Sarvis said. “I told the guys we have to find a way to play well and get after it over there. We went over there (Friday) and didn’t swing the bats all that well, maybe we can swing them a little better on Monday. Lake City is very athletic, and make you pay for every mistake. So we cannot afford to do that this time around.”
WP: Seth Ward LP: Reed Edwards. Hitters — WAC: Luke Montenery 1-for-2, RBI. AYN: Jason Duke 2-for-3; Seth Ward 2-for-3, HR, RBI; Hayden Franklin 2-for-3, HR, 2 RBI.