Keene Reese came through with a pair of clutch hits, and Hilton Head Christian Academy baseball closed out the regular season in walk-off fashion Thursday, rallying past visiting John Paul II 8-7 in extra innings.
“I’m proud of how these boys battled all year long,” HHCA coach Matt Smith said. “A walk-off in extra innings defines the resilience of our guys. They had a lot of chances for excuses and they fought back to win five of their last seven.”
The Eagles battled back from an early two-run deficit to tie the game at 5 thanks to key base hits by Wells Sharp, Jesse Hall, and Jackson Lanier. John Paul II reclaimed the lead on a fifth-inning Bryant Jolley RBI groundout, and the Golden Warriors carried the 6-5 advantage into the seventh.
Down to their final half-inning, the Eagles showed their fight, as a Lanier single and Michael Zoodsma walk set up a game-tying RBI single by Reese. HHCA had a chance to end it with the bases loaded and nobody out, but Tripp Currier pulled out an incredible escape on the mound to force extra innings.
The Golden Warriors carried the momentum to the top of the eighth, pushing across the go-ahead run on a Landry Donath steal of home plate. Hilton Head Christian needed a response, and Jace Blackshear started it with a one-out walk. After a fly ball to left put the Eagles down to their final out, Blackshear stole second base and Zoodsma came up clutch at the plate, driving a single to right and tying the game at 7. Matthew Ballard came in to pinch-run at first, and Reese did the rest, sneaking a ground ball down the left-field line to score Ballard and end the regular season with an incredible walk-off win.
“Michael and Keene came up huge in extras,” Smith said. “That’s what you want out of the middle of your order.”
Reese was the hero on Thursday night, going 3-for-4 with game-tying and winning RBIs while Lanier and Hall picked up two hits each. Kyle Scannell earned the win on the mound, allowing just one run in the final three innings to lead the Eagles to the victory.
Hayden Jennings did it all for John Paul II, going 3-for-3 with two walks while picking up 11 strikeouts in six frames on the mound.
Hilton Head Christian (7-10, 3-7) concludes its regular season.
John Paul II (3-9, 3-5) hosts Bluffton High on Friday
By Wes Kerr