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Dorman Defeats River Bluff 14-4 To Earn First State baseball Title (AAAAA) Since 1971

Dorman Defeats River Bluff 14-4 To Earn First State baseball Title (AAAAA) Since 1971 

By Billy G. Baker


Greenwood—In a best of three series between Dorman and River Bluff for the AAAAA baseball championship each team had lopsided wins at home; evidenced by River Bluff’s 9-1 win on May, 12th and the Cavaliers 7-0 win three days later, so when both teams showed up to blue skies at the neutral third game site at Lander College on May, 18th fans were encouraged on either side.

Dorman (25-8) had a great hitting day as they managed a 14-4 win over River Bluff (25-8)  for their first state title since 1971. “It’s only our second baseball title in program history,” said head Dorman coach Jack Jolly. “These guys have bounced back all year long, and after we got down after the first game we just needed to come back home and have Tanner McCallister on the mound and he got us back into the series. Once we got here today we felt like it could be anybody’s game.

“I am just proud of the guys today and Glory be to God for allowing me to be in this situation and coaching this great group of kids,” said Coach Jolly. “In all my years they are at the top of my list of the best group of guys that I have coached. They did everything we asked them to do all season. I am glad they were able to finish it off.

“No doubt about it, getting on the board early was a key to our win,” said Coach Jolly. “We were able to get momentum from there. We have great support from our community, and from the school administration, and it feels great to win this state title for them also. This accomplishment is an awesome feeling.”

Coach Jolly said Dorman came into the season with a lot of talent but they were still looking for a couple pieces of the puzzle to complete the team. “It seemed like over Spring break it just came together for us,” said Coach Jolly. “Once everybody understood what their roles were we just flourished from there.”   

Dorman jumped on the Gators for four runs in the first inning on three straight singles by Jack Hennessey, Peyton Williams, and McCallister to start the game. McCallister, T.J. White each had one RBI and Russell Parry knocked in two runs with a double in the deep corner to account for the Cav’s four run start.

River Bluff came back in the bottom of the first with a towering home run by sophomore Alex Urban to make it 4-1.

The top of the second was an insurance inning for Dorman with another four run outburst. Sophomore Jack Renwick led off with a single up the middle, advanced to second on a single by Hennessy, and then Williams reached on a bunt single to load the bases. Two batters later junior Dylan Rogers sent “a no return postage” fastball over the wall in right center for a grand slam that put Dorman up 8-1 and their fans didn’t sit down for awhile.

After the home run starting Gator pitcher Ricky Williams was replaced by lefty Hunter Garris and he got a strike-out and fly-out to end the inning.

After the game Rogers said, “It was a 0-2 count and I was looking at an off-speed breaking ball and when I hit it I knew it was going a long way,” said Rogers. “Four years ago we were a  young team hoping to get in this kind of situation one day. We all told each other then that we would get to a state championship situation in three or four years if we kept working and that is what happened.”

McCallister is a senior headed to the College of Charleston. “It means the world to the seniors and we talked about going out with a state title all season,” he said. “A lot of people didn’t see us in this situation and we were not even picked to win our region. We proved people wrong by pulling for each other and believing in each other. This team is based on love. We just love each other.”

 River Bluff cut the lead to 8-4 in the bottom of the 5th inning when they scored three runs. Starter Hunter Smith gave up a lead-off single to Cleburne Gray to start the inning and after a ground out to Jacob LeBron head coach Jack Jolley went to the lefty Hennessy in relief.

Hennessy walked Urban and  Jackson Hannon followed with a single to drive in Gray.  Jordan Halliday then reached via a hit batter. A SAC fly by Garris scored Urban to make it 8-3. Noah Lebron walked to load the bases and then Cameron Ferrell walked in an RBI scoring Hannon with the third and final run for River Bluff.

Dorman added two runs in the sixth when Renwick reached on an error, Hennessy singled and both runners advanced to second and third don a wild pitch. Noah LeBron then scored Renwick on a sac bunt and Hennessy came in on a double by McCallister to make it 10-4.

In the top of the 7th Dorman added four runs off of a walk to Daniel Wetmore, a single by Hunter Pruitt, and Williams reached on an error off of bad throw to first on his bunt  scoring Wetmore. A Sac fly by Renwick later scored Pruitt to make it 13-4 and the final run came in on a triple by Hennessy who had four hits on the day.      

River Bluff head coach Mark Bonnette started the River Bluff program from scratch five years ago. His teams have now finished second two years in a row and they expect to be back in the finals next year with a fairly young team.

“We knew after our first win in the series that we had to get one more and that it was going to be challenge because Dorman is a great team,” said Coach Bonnette. “We knew their pitching was coming around for them in the next two games. I felt great coming into the game today but you have to credit them for swinging the bats today.

“Our future is bright,” said Coach Bonnette. “Today in our lineup we had four sophomores and a freshman. I really believe this group can get us back and try to finish it next season. I am proud of the fact that in back-to-back years on the final day the season we were here with a chance to win it all. We are looking forward to next season.”  

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