“We are two wins from playing for a state championship.”
These were Coach Landy Cox’s words following the Berkeley Stags’ 6-1 over Gilbert to reach the Class AAA Lower State Finals and earn another shot at Hartsville.
These were the same words Cox said following Berkeley’s 3-0 win over Socastee on Monday, May 12.
The Stags ended the week as they started it - two wins from playing for a Class AAA state championship.
“Remember 2012,” Cox said to his team after the game. “Nobody gave us a chance then and we came in with Sterling Fiddie as just a sophomore to pitch the game of his life in relief.”
Fiddie outpitched the Cane Bay ace Zach Wimmer in a tight 1-0 duel, striking out the sides with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh to nail down the 2012 District VII championship for a young Stags team.
Now, two years later, Berkeley has to do it again. They have to go into Hartsville and beat the Red Foxes twice.
Not an easy task, especially following the 11-2 defeat on May 14 that sent the Stags to the losers bracket.
“We did it to Cane Bay and we’ll do it to Hartsville. We’ve already been there once. We’ve seen what they’ve got. We know what to expect this time. We’ll bring home a championship on Monday.”
Lost in the storm of Berkeley dominating the game at the plate with their patented brand of Small Ball was the five-plus innings of no-hit baseball thrown by starter Jeffrey Stone.
Stone pitched into the sixth inning before surrendering a home run to Jared Williams to break up the no-hit bid.
“I went out knowing I had the no-hitter,” Stone said. “I think I thought too much about it and lost my focus.”
Stone would surrender a second hit and walk a batter before giving way to Joe Glauser in relief.
Glauser pitched out of the sixth inning jam by getting the Indians’ top hitter Caleb Watkins to ground into a rally-killing double play. The tall lefthander walked one and did not surrender a hit in two-and-two-thirds innings of relief.
At the plate the Stags rapped eight hits led by Eric Orton’s single and RBI double.
Dylan Baker and Chase Ganey each produced big two-RBI hits to send Gilbert home for the summer.
“This is it right here,” Cox said. “Everyone else is done for the summer. Track’s done, tennis is done. There isn’t another baseball game going on anywhere for 200 miles other than right here. Let’s go into Hartsville and take two and play for a state championship next week.”