Russ Yates’ third hit of the game was the biggest for the Hawks in their first round match-up with Smithville. With runners on second and third and two outs in the bottom of the seventh of a tied game, the senior drove in the deciding run to give Myrtle the 1-0 advantage in the series with the 11-10 win Friday night.
“I’m proud of the guys for fighting and coming back especially because we’ve been down a lot and we stayed in our shell, never came out and never had that fight to win games,” Myrtle head coach Robert Gordon said. “We’ve won some games late in the last inning, but to go back and forth the way we did tonight, it was a big win for us.”
The Hawks built an early 3-0 lead in the second, scoring two on an error and another on a sacrifice. Brady Thompson would bring in the first run for the Seminoles in the top of the third, but that preceded another three-run inning for the Hawks, with Zack Perkins and Yates bringing in runs, making it 6-1.
Myrtle seemed to be in good shape to earn the win, but Smithville stormed back in the fifth, scoring seven runs off as many hits. Steve Adams capped the frame with his two-run shot to tie the game and Austin Spann gave the ‘Noles the lead with his second double in the inning.
“I don’t know many lead changes there were, but we had a nice, comfortable lead at one point and then we made some poor pitches, and then next thing we know we make a poor decision in the outfield on a judgment ball that should have been caught and we would have been right out of that inning,” Gordon said. “We kept giving them too many opportunities to score, and they took advantage of it.”
The lead was short-lived as Myrtle answered with three runs in the bottom half off a double by Syd Beasley and an RBI single by Taylor Hogue. Gordon credited the bottom half of his lineup in helping with the win.
“They all had big hits that scored runs and gave us a chance to win, and that’s all we ask of them, just stay in the game and come up with a hit, make a play, and that’s what they did. I’m proud of the way they came back,” he said.
The Hawks held the 9-8 advantage until Adams hit his second home run of the night, another two-run shot that gave Smithville the lead once more. Myrtle responded, down 10-9, loading the bases for Yates. One run scored off a wild pitch to tie the game before Yates’ winning hit.
Yates and Perkins each had three hits to lead Myrtle, while Justin Pickens had two. Smithville had four players with multiple hits, led by Zack Stephenson. Adam Baker earned the win on the mound despite giving up 10 runs off 12 hits.
“He wasn’t hitting his spots and we had to have him. He’s our ace and we’re always comfortable with him, but credit those guys, they got after him,” Gordon said. “As long as he didn’t get his pitch count up too high, he was in there. He’s the one we count on, and he gives our ball club a chance to win. Tonight he did the same thing, but we did something we don’t normally do for him, we hit and scored a lot of runs for him. That was the key tonight.”
The Hawks dropped both Saturday contests to the Seminoles, 12-6 and 13-5, ending their season. Smithville advances to play Greenville St. Joe next week.