By Wes Kerr
All season long, the Beaufort High Eagles have shined in the face of adversity on their way to the Lower State final. But on Friday night in Summerville, the hole was just a little too deep. Ignited by a seven-run first inning, James Island put together a brilliant performance at the plate in a 14-3 run-rule victory over the Eagles to capture Game 3 and clinch a berth in the SCHSL 4A state championship series.
With their backs against the wall two days earlier, Beaufort staved off elimination for the fourth time in a week with a 5-4 walk-off win at home Wednesday, sending the series to a decisive third game. James Davenport dug deep in another strong outing on the mound, and William Winburn’s third hit of the night plated the winning run with two outs in the bottom of the seventh to keep the Eagles’ wild postseason ride alive.
But Beaufort ran out of steam in the finale.
The Trojans got the offense rolling right away, as leadoff hitter Julius Reynolds crushed a 3-1 pitch over the left-field fence to jump out to a 1-0 lead. But James Island was just getting started. After a pair of walks by Hogan Garner and Keillor Osbon, senior Chase Worrill blasted a shot to left that Beaufort’s Rush Riley nearly robbed, but the ball popped out of his glove and over the fence for a massive three-run homer to make it a 4-0 ballgame. Russell Patterson ripped a ground ball into left to score another, and Reynolds came back around with a ringing double to plate two more and cap off the seven-run frame.
The Eagles knew they needed a quick response to claw their way back in the game, and Riley got the comeback bid started in the bottom of the first with a one-out single. Rhogue Wallace lined a 1-0 pitch into right field and advanced Riley to third before the senior crossed home on an error to put Beaufort High on the board. But James Island’s Owen French bounced back quickly on the mound, striking out Oliver Holmes to limit the damage to a single run.
After a scoreless second inning in which Beaufort two runners left in scoring position, James Island added on in the top of the third with a Garner bases-loaded walk to restore the seven-run margin. As the game entered the bottom of the fifth, Beaufort High was desperately searching for a spark from the big bats. Wallace delivered with a clutch two-out bomb, crushing a pitch over the right-field wall to give the Eagles a glimmer of hope and cut the deficit to 8-3.
But that hope was quickly extinguished, as James Island rattled off six runs in the top half of the sixth before Osbon closed it out on the mound to send his Trojans to the state championship series.
Wallace was sensational in his final game as an Eagle, going 2-for-3 with a home run and a pair of RBIs. Josh Denton, James Davenport, and Riley added a hit each.
It was a tough way to end a spectacular year, but the Eagles (17-11) put together an inspirational run in a very challenging region.
“These boys have been together since they were 8 years old,” head coach Keith Riley said. “They know each other like brothers, and they fought all the way to the end.”
Top picture: Beaufort High School’s Matt Bornsheuer overpowers James Island catcher Hogan Gardner to score the first run Wednesday, May 26 at Beaufort High. Bornsheuer also scored the winning run to defeat the Trojans 5-4 to advance to Game 3 of the SCHSL Class 4A Lower State Championship series. Photo by Bob Sofaly.