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AC Flora Claims Sixth Baseball Title Over South Pointe 8-1 To Take AAAA Crown

By CHRIS DEARING

Special Contributor

ROCK HILL – Some championships are sweeter than others. Count state championship number 6  for A.C. Flora in that category.

Coach Andy Hallett fell to the ground in celebration as the Falcons claimed their sixth state championship since 2001, and fourth in the last six years, with an 8-1 victory over South Pointe Tuesday night to sweep the Class AAAA best-of-three series 2-0.

It culminated a season that saw controversy surround his program off the field but reloaded with several freshmen and sophomores playing prominent roles.

“It’s been one of those years,” said Coach Hallett. “Stuff comes at you and you keep plugging forward and keep moving, moving, moving, To take a team this young and this old to come all the way through and be where we are right now, I couldn’t be prouder.”

“They’re all special without hesitation but I’m here to tell you this one is sweet. Everyone stayed the course.”

The Falcons went undefeated in eight playoff games and outscored their opponents 73-18. The clinching victory was the first road game of the postseason and ended with a dog-pile on the mound.

“You can’t envision stuff like that,” Hallett said. “What you can envision is sticking to the plan and having your kids believe in what you’re trying to accomplish. We had so many guys contribute throughout the playoffs.”

A.C. Flora (25-7) jumped on top with a single run in the top of the first. Coleman Pope led off with a double off the wall in leftfield and scored on a two-out double by Andrew Walker.

The Falcons blew things open with a four-run second. Pope delivered a RBI single to score Jonnie Hernandez to open things up. Will Bethea grounded to third and it couldn’t be handled, allowing two runs to score. Leighton Long closed out the scoring with a RBI fielder’s choice to make it 5-0.

“Hats off to coach Hallett. He stays within his system. He continues to come after you with a bulldog mentality,” said South Pointe coach Joel Taylor.

South Pointe (25-9) got one back in the bottom of the second with a sacrifice fly from Dez Good.

It stayed that way until the fifth. Hallett showed he was pushing the right buttons when Henry Mills pinch-hit and added a two-run single.

Pope was the only player on the last title team in 2014. He went 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored.

“Freshman year I didn’t have much of a contribution but this year I feel like I led this team and they stepped up. I’m really proud of my guys,” Pope said. “We really stepped up in the playoffs.”

Sophomore Caleb Speedy pitched a complete game six-hitter to earn the win. The left-hander struck out two and walked three and hit a batter to improve to 7-2 on the season. More importantly, the Falcons only committed one harmless error behind him.

“He’s tough,” said Hallet. “He can spin it and he can change it. It goes back to we’re going to do what we do. He dominated the open side of the plate all night long.”

South Pointe’s season ended short of a title in its first championship series appearance. Taylor, who is in his seventh season, was more than proud of his team.

 “Our guys kept battling to the end. They never quick and battled to the end. That’s the culture I’ve tried to change here and they’ve bought into it. They’ve done a phenomenal job.”  

 


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