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Holly Hill forces game 3 in SCISA Class A baseball series

Holly Hill – After three days of postponements due to rain, game two of the SCISA Class A state championship baseball series was finally played on Friday night.

Trailing 1-0 in the series after a 6-2 loss to defending state champion Dorchester Academy on Monday night, the Holly Hill Academy Raiders evened the series with a 6-3 home victory on Friday night.

A deciding game three is scheduled for Saturday at Branchville High School with a 5:30 p.m. first pitch.

Holly Hill senior right-hander Hanks Avinger survived a shaky start and ended up with 13 strikeouts to pace the Raiders. Avinger allowed three runs early, aided by some shaky defense, but shut down the visitors the rest of the way. He pitched into the seventh inning before reaching his pitch count limit.

“I told my guys before the game that I didn’t want this to be my last time suiting up in my Holly Hill jersey,” Avinger said. “I told them I would give my best out here on the mound if they would back me up defense and hitting-wise and they did that. So we are playing game three, winner take all.”

Each team scored three early runs and settled into a tight game through three innings. Holly Hill loaded the bases in the third with one out but Dorchester Academy starter Rhett Mizzell struck out the next two hitters to avoid damage.

Holly Hill (15-6) took the lead in the fourth on Even Boyd’s RBI single and added a run in the fifth on Jordan Boyd’s RBI double. The Raiders added a run on a wild pitch in the sixth.

“We had the best pitcher in SCISA going so we expected to win tonight,” Holly Hill’s first-year head coach Josh Christian said. “I was very impressed with him tonight. We came alive at the plate also, got more hits. I think our guys were prepared.”

Christian saw his team lose three times to Dorchester Academy before Friday night. They also lost in the state champion series to Dorchester last season. He hopes his team has cleared a huge mental hurdle for game three.

With these guys, it’s all mental,” he said. “They believe they are the best team but we sometimes come out and don’t mentally have it. Teenagers, you know how they are. Having that mental edge (with the win) should help us.”

Nick Strickland and Jordan Boyd each had two hits for Holly Hill. Josh Siau added two RBIs. Freshman Wyatt Judy had two hits for Dorchester Academy.

Siau is expected to get the start for Holly Hill in game three while Dorchester will counter with ace Chase Way, who is undefeated this season with an ERA of 0.23.

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