High School Sports

Late-inning magic continues for St. James, moves on to Lower State AAA final

Scenes, reaction from St. James baseball Lower State victory over Airport

The St. James Sharks delivered in the clutch, scoring two runs in the ninth inning to take down Airport in opening game of the Lower State playoffs
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The St. James Sharks delivered in the clutch, scoring two runs in the ninth inning to take down Airport in opening game of the Lower State playoffs

The first glance didn’t feel right to Robbie Centracchio.

Thankfully, his player’s confidence level increased enough before the next look to let the St. James baseball coach roll the dice. He’s happy he did.

Harrison Scott laid down a perfect two-strike bunt in the bottom of the seventh, and after a throwing error turned a would-be sacrifice into Jacob English crossing the plate, the Sharks defeated Hilton Head Island 3-2 in the winners bracket game of the Lower State championship.

“I looked him in his eyes and he didn’t look like he wanted to get it down,” Centracchio said. “I gave him a second look and he said ‘I can do it. I can do it.’ We felt like we needed to get it down to win the ball game. He trusted me, and he got it down.”

Asking Scott to execute the bunt wasn’t the high-percentage play. The outfielder also admitted to some self-made nerves, mostly brought about by some base-running blunders in the last two games.

He was picked off twice in Monday’s win over Airport and then again Wednesday during the third inning.

Still, in the bottom of the seventh, he did his job, placing the bunt down the third-base line.

“He told me I gotta get the bunt down and win the game, and I did it,” Scott said. “You just have to forget all of that, get rid of it. It’s in the past.”

With a 7-1 win over Hanahan on Friday night, St. James earned a spot in the Lower State AAA baseball tournament.

Hilton Head Island got on the board first in the top of the fourth inning on Koty Brighham’s RBI single. The Sharks got the run back plus one in the bottom of the frame when Scott’s chopper brought Jacob English home for the first time on the night and then Parker Rabon’s RBI single scored Liam Bloom.

The Seahawks tied it up on a pair of St. James throwing errors in the top of the sixth, but turnabout was – in the end – fair play.

I looked him in his eyes and he didn’t look like he wanted to get it down. I gave him a second look and he said ‘I can do it. I can do it.’ We felt like we needed to get it down to win the ball game. He trusted me, and he got it down.

St. James baseball coach Robbie Centracchio on Harrison’s Scott’s bunt that led to a win for the Sharks on Wednesday

It was St. James’ second straight walk-off win in the Lower State tournament, one that few others expected Hilton Head Island would even be a part of. The Seahawks finished fourth in Region VIII-AAA but did not waste its playoff opportunity.

Hilton Head Island swept through the District V bracket, two wins over No. 1-seed Gilbert proving to other eventual Lower State qualifiers that they weren’t going to be an easy out. They then opened the Lower State tournament with a road win at Berkeley.

The run included three one-run games and a two-run victory. After Wednesday’s one-run loss, though, Hilton Head Island will return home for a Friday game against Airport, with the winner of that game coming to Murrells Inlet Monday for the Lower State finals.

Regardless of the opponent, St. James will have two opportunities to win one game and advance to the Class AAA title series.

“Our guys love playing at home,” Centracchio said after his team’s eighth consecutive home game. “We love our new hitting facility, our new press box. We go up there and have a nice dinner before we play. We’re wearing the uniforms we want to wear. It’s just baseball superstition 101.”

Said Scott: “Playing at home, it’s about winning in these pin stripes.”

Riding pitcher Grayson Stoneking, the St. James baseball team held on for a 2-1 win Friday night, earning the Region VII-AAA title.

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