It was a daunting task for Beaufort High to go into the Shark Tank and win two straight games. It was even more daunting against a team with 12 straight wins and Darin Horn looming on the mound. But the Eagles did it, and they punched their ticket to the state’s final four.
Wes Graves and Colin Peterson threw a pair of phenomenal complete-game shutouts, and Beaufort High stymied May River 2-0 and 10-0 on the road Friday to win the SCHSL Class 4A District 4 tournament and advance to the Lower State championship series against region rival James Island.
After both Horn and Graves threw a pair of 1-2-3 innings to start the opening game, the Eagles got on the board for the first time in the second, scoring via an RBI groundout to grab a 1-0 lead. Graves then continued his stellar performance on the mound, allowing just one hit through the first three innings.
Beaufort High gave its pitcher another big run in the fourth, as Colin Peterson came up with the clutch two-out single on a sharp grounder up the middle to double his team’s lead. May River had a massive opportunity in the home half of the fourth after a Luke Holland double put runners on second and third, but Graves came back with a huge strikeout to keep the two-run margin intact.
The Sharks threatened again in the bottom of the seventh with an infield error and a Bennett Roemer single, putting the tying run on and the district championship-winning run at the plate with one out and the top of the order coming up. James Layman popped out on an infield fly, bringing the visitors an out away from forcing a deciding game.
The script couldn’t have been any better as Horn stepped in with the contest in the balance. On a 1-2 offering to the plate, the senior chopped a grounder to James Davenport who flipped the ball to second base for the final out, sending the district championship to a final deciding game.
It was shaped up to be a back-and-forth battle royale in the nightcap, but it quickly turned into a Beaufort High coronation. The Eagles cranked up the offense in the second inning to score four runs and take control of the ballgame. Wallace started it all off with a booming double to right field, Oliver Holmes was hit by a pitch to put a second runner on, and Zach Talbert laid down a gorgeous bunt-single to load up the bases with nobody out. Peterson then continued his hot day at the plate and helped out his own cause on the mound, sending a sacrifice fly into right field before a costly error continued the inning and plated another to make it 2-0. The Eagles doubled the advantage with a bases-loaded walk and a Rush Riley sacrifice fly, completing a full trip around the order and finishing the frame with a 4-0 lead.
Peterson struck again an inning later, smashing a line-drive double to left field and scoring a pair of runs before Davenport notched his own two-bagger to take a commanding 7-0 advantage. With an electric student section in full force behind them, the visiting Eagles kept the good times rolling in the fourth, adding RBI singles from Willam Winburn and Holmes plus a Peterson run-scoring groundout to push it to 10-0.
May River got the leadoff man on in the fourth and fifth innings, but Peterson shut down the rest of the Shark lineup both times to complete a memorable run-rule victory and punch Beaufort High’s ticket to the final four.
The Eagles only needed two pitchers to get it done in the twin billing, and both were spectacular. Graves started it off with a masterful seven innings, giving up just three hits while holding the Sharks off the board the entire way. Then Peterson put together a complete-game shutout of his own, surrendering just three hits and a walk while striking out six batters.
But that wasn’t all for the Eagle standout. Peterson came through on offense as well, going 2-for-5 with a team-leading four RBIs in the doubleheader. Holmes also delivered all evening long at the plate, finishing 3-for-5 with a run driven in.
Horn spun together a fantastic effort for the Sharks on the hill, going all seven innings of the opening game allowing just one earned run and racking up nine strikeouts. Zack Morillo led the way for May River (16-8) at the dish, going 2-for-2 with a double in the finale.
Beaufort High (16-9) advances to the Lower State championship to face fellow Region 7-4A squad James Island for a best-of-three series beginning on Monday. The Eagles will be on the road for Game 1 and will host the Trojans for Game 2 on Wednesday. If necessary, Game 3 will be played Friday at a neutral site.
By Wes Kerr