Beaufort High’s valiant comeback effort came up just short in Game 1 of the SCHSL 4A Lower State championship series, as the Eagles dropped a 5-4 road contest Monday at James Island. After the Eagles erased a 4-1 deficit, Hogan Garner scored the go-ahead run in the sixth to give the Trojans the win and a 1-0 series lead.
After James Island starter Stephen West worked a 1-2-3 first inning, the home team quickly got the offense rolling, scoring two runs on a pair of hits and errors to grab a 2-0 advantage. Beaufort answered with a run in the top half of the third, as Rush Riley swiped second base and scored on a wild pitch to cut the deficit in half, but the Trojans struck right back in the bottom half, tacking on two runs and extending the lead to 4-1.
The Eagles needed a rally to get back in the game, and they found their opportunity in the top half of the fifth. After two hit-by-pitches and a walk loaded the bases with one out, Oliver Holmes ripped the first pitch he saw to left field, scoring Matt Bornscheuer and William Winburn before Rhogue Wallace crossed the plate on a passed ball to even it up at 4.
Holmes then worked out of a two-baserunner jam to keep it tied, but Beaufort stranded James Davenport after a one-out single in the ensuing half-inning, sending the stalemate to the bottom of the sixth. Garner got the James Island crowd on its feet in an instant, smoking a leadoff double to left field and putting the Trojans in business. Holmes bounced back with a huge strikeout before a wild pitch and a balk was enough to score Garner and give the home team the late 5-4 lead.
The Eagles put together a strong start to the top of the seventh, as a hit-by-pitch and sacrifice bunt advanced the speedy Riley to second base with one out. Keillor Osbon then struck out Wallace on three pitches, putting the game on the bat of Holmes. The senior skied a popup to shallow center field with two Trojans racing towards each other to haul it in. It was a few seconds of nervousness for the hometown fans, but Julius Reynolds held onto the baseball as the two collided to seal the Game 1 victory.
Despite a tough ending, Holmes delivered a spectacular effort, going 2-for-3 at the plate with a pair of RBIs while throwing six strong innings on the mound. The Eagles were held to just four hits in the contest, as West and Osbon dazzled with a combined 14 strikeouts.
The series now shifts to Beaufort High on Wednesday, as the Eagles (16-10) look to stave off elimination on their home field and force a decisive third game Friday at a neutral site.