MONCKS CORNER – One bad inning is all it took for the Berkeley Stags to tie the 5A state baseball championship series with Fort Mill at one game apiece.
The Stags bounced back in game two of the series to tie the series at 1-1 with a 12-7 win Tuesday night on their home field with the help of a late game grand slam in the sixth inning which was part of a five-run inning.
That inning broke a 7-7 tie with Fort Mill, as the Jackets struggled in the game.
“We beat ourselves,” said Fort Mill head coach Travis Collier. “We had 10 hits, they had four. We had our chances to win. We didn’t finish the job.”
The two teams will meet in game three at noon on Saturday at Blythewood High School to see who can win the state title.
Fort Mill started off strong with the third batter of the game in Luke Garabedian hitting a solo home run to put the Jackets up early.
Berkeley started off strong as well. Fort Mill struggled on the mound to open as starter Mathieu Curtis walked the first two batters and then made an error on an infield bunt with a wild throw allowing those two runs to score. The Stags would add a third run on a couple of sacrifices to strike back at the Jackets.
Fort Mill threatened in the top of the second inning getting two on by walks, but couldn’t push any across. The Stags got the first two runners on in the bottom of the second with no outs. Another throwing error by Fort Mill led to two more Stags runs to go up 5-1 with one out. The two runs and another hit by Berkeley was enough for Collier to pull Curtis after one and a third innings. Andrew Craddock came in for relief and walked the first batter he faced to load the bases. He would settle down to get out of the inning without allowing a run.
Connor Rasmussen homered to lead off the third inning. Dylan Schaefer and Scott Young singled and Eli Craddock would walk to load the bases with one out. Schaefer then scored on a passed ball and another run would score on a sacrifice before the Stags pulled their starter.
Fort Mill started a huge rally in the fourth as Zach Jennings and Rasmussen both singled before Schaefer hit a three-run home run to tie the game at 7-7.
Andrew Craddock pitched well for the Jackets for the third and fourth innings. But come the bottom of the fifth, the Stags got two runners on, but Craddock was able to bare down and get the third out without allowing a run.
Fort Mill was definitely in hostile territory as an estimated 1,500 people were at the game and calls certainly didn’t go their way.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Stags got two of the first three hitters on and a wild pitch advanced the runners to second and third with only one out. A walk loaded the bases and that was the night for Andrew Craddock as Jaeger Pankowski took the mound.
Another Berkeley hit caused a run to score for the Stags allowing them to take an 8-7 lead. Then one bad pitch led to a Berkeley grand slam to put them up 12-7.
Mac Banks: email@example.com, @fortprep