South Florence Baseball defeats May River 5-3 | High school
FLORENCECS – South Florence coach Kenny Gray wasn’t going to let his team dwell on last year’s two losses to May River in the district playoffs that ended this season.
In another rematch Wednesday in the first round of this year’s Class 4A district playoffs, the Sharks took a 2-0 lead early in the third.
But then Gray had a chat with his players.
“I just told them we had to react,” he said.
That’s what the Bruins did, scoring five points and winning 5-3 in a game that was postponed from Tuesday due to weather. South plays Thursday at 7 p.m. at the airport.
During that bottom of the third hinge, South sent nine players to the plate. Game-winning pitcher Aydin Palmer started with a single, followed by two perfect bunts that loaded the bases. The first, by Hunter Matthews, rolled along the first base line as he reached safely. Then Parker Winfield’s bunt landed exactly between pitcher James Layman and catcher Noah Sanders.
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Jake Hardee and Luke Miller followed with RBI singles to tie the game. Then, after Hardee scored on a passed ball, Stone Osborne hit a two-run double to make it 5-2. Miller finished 2 for 3 and teammate JR Williams doubled as well.
“Hits are contagious, and we kicked it,” said Gray, whose team improved to 18-6. “In the playoffs, you score when you can. Jake managed to jump on the past ball, Stone managed to get the other two points. It was a team effort and we just played hard.
With the Bruins behind, Gray thought those big hits would indeed be on the way.
“We had good momentum early in the first run, and we just couldn’t get any points,” Gray said. “But then we were able to get people on board and get those big hits when we needed them.”
Palmer seemed to find his rhythm on the mound after that. He struck out five batters in his 5 2/3 innings on the job.
“His control really wasn’t there early on with his breaking pitch and fastball,” Gray said. “But then he was able to zone it out and be more consistent. Once he did that, he was fine.
Just like the Bruins at the end. Hardee went the last 1 1/3, retiring one and earning the stoppage.
“Our guys did what we had to do,” Gray said. “(Last year’s playoffs) was a good learning experience for us, and that helped us with today’s result. And I hope that will bode well for us tomorrow night.