Stags run out of magic
A little more than a week ago the Berkeley Stags baseball and softball teams hoisted region championship trophies into the air for the first time in two generations of BHS sports. For the softball team it was their first region title ever and for the baseball players it was a feat accomplished for the first time in half a century.
Ten days later, these magical seasons have come to an abrupt close. Both the Stags and Lady Stags made earlier exits from the Class AAA state playoffs than they would have liked.
A walk off base hit spelled the baseball team’s doom in the bottom of the seventh in the District VIII finals 2-1 against Socastee. The Stags were soundly beaten by the Braves earlier in the tournament and battled back to the finals just like last year, with a 10-0 win over Darlington to set up a rematch in the two-and-out tournament.
While in 2012 the Stags rallied to beat Cane Bay twice to win the District VII championship, this year that rally fell short in the game one loss to Socastee.
After the Braves took a 1-0 lead from an unearned run in the home half of the fourth, Berkeley’s Andrew Lockliear stymied the Socastee offense, scattering just four hits and shutting the Braves offense down over six and 2/3 innings of shutout pitching.
In the top of the seventh, the Stags rallied to plate a run and knot the score at 1-1.
Lockliear singled to center to lead off the inning, his second hit of the night. Pinch runner Joseph Dress was sacrificed to second on Brandon Browder’s bunt, and advanced to third on Dylan Baker’s groundout.
Second baseman Chris Wrenn’s hard grounder to short was mishandled for an error and Dress raced home with the tying run.
“We put ourselves in position to win ball games,” said BHS Coach Landy Cox. “This team has done that all season long.”
Against Socastee though, the win wasn’t meant to be.
In the bottom of the seventh the Braves loaded the bases with just one out on a pair of walks and an error. With the bases loaded and just one out, the Braves’ Dylan Thompson singled to center to plate the winning run and end Berkeley’s magical season.
“If you would have told us we’d be 23-4 at this point in the season, I wouldn’t have believed you,” Cox said. “These are a special group of baseball players and while next year’s team of juniors will be a loaded team of seniors, it will be this group of guys that they’ll talk about for years to come.”
The Stags will bring back virtually everyone, except their four seniors, Andrew Lockliear, Brandon Browder, Chris Wrenn and Joshua Clarke.
The Stags finish their season with a 23-4 mark and a Region 8AAA championship.
“We’ll be back next year,” Cox said.