It took an 11-inning battle to do it, but Hilton Head Prep baseball has been defeated. The Dolphins were one out away from a spot in the SCISA 3A championship game, but Cardinal Newman rallied Friday for a dramatic 3-2 walk-off win to hand the visiting Dolphins their first loss of the season.
It was a fantastic pitching duel between HHP’s Luke Foley and Cardinal Newman’s Austin Laughlin, as the two starters both pitched an incredible seven innings of scoreless ball. The Dolphins’ best chance came in the seventh with the bases loaded after two walks and a Foley single, but a strikeout stranded all three runners.
Foley then kept the game alive in the bottom half, working around an error and a walk to push it to extras. After a scoreless eighth, Hilton Head Prep‘s offense broke through in the ninth. Foley got it started with a line drive to right and advanced to second on a wild pitch before scoring on an error to grab a 1-0 lead. Steele Burd picked up a valuable second run, scoring Gunnar Bonomo via a sacrifice fly.
It looked to be smooth sailing in the bottom of the ninth with two quick outs, but the Cardinals found a way. A walk and hit batsman set up an Alex Myers single and Laughlin double to plate two runs and force a 10th inning.
After a 1-2-3 HHP top half, the home team threatened again, putting two men on with nobody out. But Harrison Green stayed strong, picking up two strikeouts and a popout to work himself out of the jam and keep his team afloat. HHP again went down quickly again in the 11th, and the Cardinals made the most of their opportunity this time, ending the game on a walk-off sacrifice fly from Matthew Hafner, who also sat down six straight Dolphins in relief to earn the win.
Foley delivered an amazing postseason effort, throwing 8 2-3 innings with just one earned run while racking up seven strikeouts. The stellar senior also led the way at the plate, finishing 2-for-5 and scoring a run, and he narrowly missed a go-ahead homer in the 11th, flying out to the warning track in center.
Hilton Head Prep (23-1) will face elimination Monday in a rematch against Laurence Manning at 4:30 p.m. in Sea Pines.
By Wes Kerr