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Cardinal Newman Wins AAA SCISA Baseball Title With 8-2 Win Over Ben Lippen Tuesday Night

Cardinal Newman Wins AAA SCISA Baseball Title With 8-2 Win Over Ben Lippen Tuesday Night

By Chris Dearing

 Special Writer

Columbia--Last June, first-year Cardinal Newman baseball coach Charles Assey wasn’t really sure what he was walking into. He left White Knoll, a Class AAAAA member in the South Carolina High School League, to take over a Cardinals team that played for a SCISA championship just a few weeks earlier.

What he found was a group of willing players that bought into his vision. The end result was Cardinal Newman won its first baseball state championship since 1998 with a dominating 8-2 victory over Ben Lippen Tuesday night (may, 15th) to sweep the SCISA championship series 2-0.

“It feels good and it’s all about these kids. I’ve been in a lot of college dugouts and 5A high school dugouts, so I didn’t know what to expect when I came over and took the job,” he said. “I knew they were here last year, knew I had a little bit of talent but from taking the job and coming over, I think it was three days later we met in the weight room in June and there were about 30 guys standing at the front door. They’ve bought in every step of the way.”

The Cardinals started the season 6-5 before winning 18 of their final 20 games to finish 24-7 on the year.

“I told them if they stayed the course and rode the ship out, I felt like it would help them out,” Assey said. “I preached if we could play good baseball from spring break on down, and keep ringing he bell, they would start believing and special things happened.”

It was a second straight impressive performance on the mound that helped Cardinal Newman improve to 4-0 against the Falcons this season.

Sophomore Myles Hedgecock, who transferred over from A.C. Flora in November, pitched a complete game four-hitter with five strikes and just two walks. He retired 11 in a row at one point, from the last out of the first inning until he hit a batter with one out in the fifth.

Gage Jeffcoat shut down the Falcons (19-6) bats in a 3-1 victory on Monday.

“(Hedgecock) has been good for us all year,” Assey said. “It was sort of an early Christmas present for us when he showed up in November from A.C. Flora. He’s worked hard. He’s a strike thrower with movement on his ball. He just loves the moment.”

The Cardinals pitching was the difference according to Ben Lippen Coach Matt Padgett said.

“When you get to this stage, both teams probably get here because they have really good arms,” he said. “Their arms are really good. We played them four times and got beat four times. All the credit goes to the coaching staff and those players. That’s a really good team over there.”

It helped the offense staked Hedgecock to a 3-0 lead before he ever took the mound. Five singles in the first inning led to RBIs by AJ DePalma, Simon Penso and Jake Rehling.

“It was so helpful,” the right-hander said. “It gave me so much confidence. I knew all I had to do was throw strikes.”

The Cardinals added single runs in the second and fifth. Tanner Garrison delivered an RBI single in the second and Rehling scored on an error in the fifth. A three-run sixth made it 8-0 when Gage Jeffcoat, Penso and Jake Tanner drove in runs to round out the scoring.

Cardinal Newman finished with 15 hits, all singles. Rehling and Quinn O’Connor led the attack with three hits apiece as eight of the nine batters recorded a hit and all nine reached base at least once.

Assey won a championship as a player with Brookland-Cayce in 1998 as well.

The victory also capped a special year for Assay and his wife Megan. Megan is the girl’s basketball coach at Spring Valley and the Vikings claimed the SCHSL Class AAAAA state championship in early March. The couple is also expecting their second child in nine weeks.

“I kind of teared up thinking of me changing jobs and Megan doing what she’s doing and she’s seven months pregnant now,” Assay said. “I step back sometimes and think of the time we devote to what we do, we depend on a lot of people to let us do it. It’s special, I can’t sugarcoat that.”

Ben Lippen finishes 19-6.

“Our guys battled,” Padgett said. “A lot of people don’t know but our guys went through a lot of stuff this year and they kept fighting and playing. It’s amazing group of kids.”

 W: Myles Hedgecock. L: Tripp Williams. Hitters: CN – Jake Rehling 3-4; Quinn O’Connor 3-4; Tanner Garrison 2-4; AJ DePalma 2-3; Simon Penso 2-4. BL – Garett Summers 2-3; Lee Metts 3B.

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