After delivering a game-tying hit in the seventh inning, Parker Rabon had mixed emotions about putting the game in the hands of the next guy.
But that next guy was Anthony Peck, and he came through.
Peck followed Rabon’s clutch hit with one of his own, a game-winning RBI single to give the St. James baseball team to a 4-3 victory over Airport in the opening game of the Class AAA Lower State playoffs.
“I knew the kind of team we had. We’re a team that really likes to fight if we get down like that and we all knew we were going to come together and at least score one, if not two,” Rabon said. “… I felt really good [after the hit], but I also felt kind of bad for putting it on the next guy. But it was a lot of fun; I got a pitch I could handle.”
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The Sharks weren’t playing great baseball early in the game as they committed four errors, collected just three hits and left 10 men on base before the final inning.
Still, they managed to stick with the Eagles the whole way.
“We made a lot of mistakes throughout the game and we needed something big to come up,” Sharks coach Robbie Centracchio said. “For us to play as bad as we did and to pull out a win says a lot about our team.”
St. James starter Grayson Stoneking exited after five solid innings of work, and Kolby Robtoy tossed two shutout innings of relief to pick up the victory.
“Right now, I can’t think of the words but it feels great,” Robtoy said. “I love playing with this team; we always come back. We fight, fight, fight until the end.”
And just to pitch in such a big game was special for Robtoy.
“It’s an honor. I haven’t been thrown out there (on the mound) much this year,” he said. “A lot of our starting pitchers have been pitching complete games, so I’ve been sitting on the bench a little while but I always kept it through. I always kept my focus and I make sure I throw strikes.”
Despite delivering the game-winning hit, Peck was quick to share the spotlight.
“That was not me, like 100 percent me. Our team fought all the way until the end on that one,” he said. “I don’t even know, that was just amazing. It felt so good.”
Peck and the Sharks will look to keep that feeling going as they host Hilton Head on Wednesday for a spot in the Lower State championship.
“We don’t stop,” Peck said. “We fight until the last pitch is thrown and we don’t give up, ever.”
And to keep playing on their home field is just a bonus for the Sharks as they keep their eyes on the prize.
“Playing home is huge. Just going forward, they believe and that’s a powerful thing to have a team that believes like that and plays together,” Centracchio said. “Their only goal is to win a championship. That’s a powerful force that we’ve been playing with all season.”
▪ WP: Kolby Robtoy. LP: Josh Tucker. Top hitters: Airport: Evan Richardson 1-3, run; Joey Allen 1-3, run. SJ: Grayson Stoneking 1-3, RBI; Parker Rabon 1-4, RBI; Anthony Peck 1-4, RBI; Jordan Fields RBI, run.