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Hilton Head Prep Remains Undefeated (23-0) With 3-2 AAA Playoff Win Over Laurence Manning Tuesday

Hilton Head Prep Remains Undefeated (23-0) With 3-2 AAA Playoff Win Over Laurence Manning Tuesday

By Billy G. Baker


Manning—Playing a flex baseball schedule during the season against just two AAA teams, Hilton Head Prep (23-0) was a little disappointed in a three seeding to start the SCISA playoffs on the road at two seeded Laurence Manning (14-3) on Tuesday but the Dolphins proved they are a team to be reckoned with in AAA as they pulled out a come form behind 3-2 win over the Swampcats.

HHP is head coached by Chris Wells who was the head coach at Hilton Head High for 16 seasons before taking over the Dolphins baseball program a few years ago.  “The double play we made was critical for us because they had got some momentum by getting two runners on base with one-out, and that play got us out of that inning against a fundamentally sound team,” said Coach Wells. “We knew we had our hands full coming to Laurence Manning’s home field and playing such a quality team with a good home crowd. Coach Hatfield coaches fundamentally sound teams for sure.

“We were fortunate to win the game with our poor execution fielding bunts and my lord we working on that a couple hours in practice recently,” said Coach Wells. “We were able to put together some hits in the 5th inning to go ahead 3-1. We were able to hang on and this is a quality win for our program.”

HHP will now play at top seeded Cardinal Newman on Friday. CN beat Wilson Hall 7-1 on Tuesday.

LMA head coach Barry Hatfield said after the game, “We need to do a better job getting timely hits when we need them,” said Coach Hatfield. “The double play in the sixth hurt our chances of at least tying the game with runners on first and third with one out but their shortstop had a heck of a game and he made a great play.

“Then in the bottom of the 7th we get the lead-off single with two seniors, our 3-4 hitters, coming to the plate so were hoping to get a couple runs and win the game but it just didn’t work out for us tonight,” said Coach Hatfield. “

In 2017 LMA came back and won a AAA state title after losing their first game in the playoffs. “We have the pitching depth to come all the way back but we need to swing the bat a little better,” said Coach Hatfield.

LMA will now host Ben Lippen on Wednesday at 6 p.m. Coach Hatfield said LMA is likely to start Henry Durant against Ben Lippen. “He is our number three pitcher and I am not going to pitch someone just to win one game,” said Coach Hatfield. “We in it to win it all and our pitching depth is a key for us. I thought we played well on defense. We knew coming in Hilton Head (Prep) was going to throw strikes and we just rolled over on to many outside pitches.”                    

Trailing 1-0 going into the top of the 6th the Dolphins got a one-out single by Tommy Stauffer, followed up Jaiden Hrobar’s double that put runners on the corners. Luke Foley then drilled a line-drive double that scored both Stauffer and Hrobar to give the Dolphins a 2-1 lead. With two out Connor McDonnell singled in Foley who had advanced to third on a wild pitch to account for HHP’s three runs.

Laurence Manning took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second when junior Mickey Jordan reached on a throwing error to first base following a bunt. Jordan was advancing Keaton Wildes to second who had led off with a single and Wildes made it all the way to third on the throwing error. Starting LMA pitcher Buddy Gales then reached safely on a fielder’s choice but Wildes was out at the plate on a close play. 

Davis Campbell then reached on a bunt to load the bases with one out. Jackson Brown then scored Jordan on a SAC fly RBI to give LMA an early 1-0 lead.

After HHP went up 3-1 the Swampcats came back with a run in the bottom of the 5th. Catcher Austin Geddings led off with a double and two batters later center fielder Gabe Harris put down a perfect bunt, pass the pitcher’s reach, to reach safely giving LMA runners on the corners once again with one out. Geddings scored on Bryce Acord’s RBI ground-out to cut the deficit to 3-2.

Then in the bottom of the sixth it looked like LMA might tie the game as Gales reached on an error and then Campbell reached on a well- placed bunt putting runners at first and second with one out. However, a ground ball hit to Dolphin’s shortstop resulted in a perfect play to end the inning that had looked promising.      

Both teams recorded 10 hits. HHP was led by Stauffer, Hrobar, and McDonnell with two hits each. Other Dolphins with one hit included Foley, Steele Burd, Payne Gartner, and Reese Maion. The winning pitcher for HHP was Maion who went four innings allowing six hits and string out two batters. Burd and Foley came in relief to preserve the win.

LMA’s top hitter was Campbell with three followed up by Geddings, Briton Morris, and Wofford bound Gabe Harris with two hits each. The remaining hit was by Bryce Acord. Gales took the loss going 4.2 innings allowing seven hits while striking out five Prep batters. Cam Branham and Hunter Vohs came in over the final three innings in relief.  Keaton Wildes made several nice catches in right field for LMA.

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