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Central squeezed out a 6-5 win to stay alive in the Class AA Upper State baseball championship series on Wednesday, May 14.
The Eagles, 23-5, scored on a walk-off suicide squeeze bunt to notch the 6-5 home win over Indian Land.
The CHS squeeze bunt foiled a stellar Warriors’ comeback, which saw IL rally from a 5-0 deficit to tie the game.
With the game locked in a 5-all tie in the bottom of the seventh, Central loaded the bases with Cole Hudson at the plate.
Hudson, on a low pitch, got the bunt down and Robbie Burch, who walked to open the Central seventh and stole second ahead of two intentional walks to load the bases, slid home with the winning run.
“It was a low fastball, but Cole did a good job getting it down,” CHS coach Mitch Leaird said. “It was executed real well.”
The Eagles’ win sends Central to Ninety Six to face the Wildcats on Friday, May 16 at 5 p.m. Central will have to beat Ninety Six twice on Friday to advance to the Class AA state championship series.
The narrow loss ends the Warriors’ season at 17-9.
“We beat Indian Land four times this season and twice it was on walk-off wins,” Leaird said. “I knew it would be tough again today. They improved over the season and at the end, they were playing real well. That’s a tough team. Alan and his staff have done a great job with them.”
Central, which beat IL 9-4 on Friday, May 9 to open the Class AA Upstate title series, looked to be on its way to a much easier win than it turned out to be.
The Eagles broke on top with two first-inning runs, highlighted by Burch’s sacrifice fly for a 2-0 lead.
CHS added two in the second on Dante Blakeney’s two-run single for a 4-0 lead. Two innings later, Cody Hall’s RBI-hit gave the Eagles a 5-0 edge.
The Warriors fought back in the fifth with five runs. Ryan Lawson, who opened the inning with a hit, later scored on an error. Mike Webb had a two-run double to make it 5-3. Chuck Webb had a ground out to push home a run and Mike Webb scored on a wild pitch to tie the game.
The game stayed tied until the CHS seventh when Hudson’s bunt scored Burch.
Sam Caldwell, who worked 2.2 innings in relief, was the winner, allowing no hits, a walk and hit a batter.
Chuck Webb, who worked the seventh for Indian Land, took the loss.
Mike Webb led IL with a two-run double. Chuck Webb had a hit and drove in a run. Ryan Lawson and Bobby McCree each had a hit.
Blakeney, Hudson and Trey Sowell each had two hits.
Indian Land, which qualified for the Class AA Upper State playoffs as the fourth seed out of Region IV-AA, rebounded from a loss to Pelion in its playoff opener to capture the District III crown with a road sweep of Region IV-AA runner-up Buford High School, 11-0, 4-0.
“We had a great run and I was proud of our guys,” IL coach Alan LeRoy said. “They battled all the way and set the bar high for this program.”