SOUTH AIKEN 10, RICHLAND NORTHEAST 4
By JEREMY TIMMERMAN
South Aiken scored one run at a time for a few innings before blowing things open in the fifth inning of Thursday’s 10-4 Class AAAA playoff win over Richland Northeast.
South Aiken (16-9) scored in every frame, starting with one run in each of the first four innings against the Cavaliers (11-12). T-Bred head coach Bob Polewski said he told his team that formula was a winning one.
“Well that’s what I told them. If you can pick one run an inning, we go six innings; six runs, that wins a lot of games for us this year,” Polewski said. “You just keep scoring, keep scoring. Score in any way. It don’t have to be four hits.”
The T-Breds did find different ways to score in their playoff opener. After South Aiken starter Jamie Morlan (7-2) surrendered a run in the top of the first inning on a dropped third strike, throwing error, balk and groundout to short, Taylor Widener drove in Cory Bryant with a double to left-center to tie the game at 1-all.
Widener, a University of South Carolina signee, was 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored, while Bryant, a USC Aiken signee, was 2-for-4 with one run scored and an RBI. Stokes Griffith also had a pair of hits with an RBI and a run scored for the T-Breds.
The home team scored its second run with a walk, a hit batter and a single, and added a run each in the third and fourth with two hits or less. Even when the T-Breds broke the game open with a four-run fifth inning to push the score to 8-1, they did so with a hit, three walks and an error.
That was more than enough for Morlan, who struck out a pair of batters and allowed two runs, one earned, on five hits, a walk and a hit batter.
Polewski said the senior got the desired results despite not being completely on top of his game.
“I’ve seen him better. He didn’t have his best stuff, but he grinded it out,” Polewski said. “He wasn’t as sharp as he has been, and that may be because it’s a little different – I mean it’s the playoffs. It may have been a little bit of nerves.”
With the win, South Aiken moves to the winner’s side of their four-team district in the Class AAAA Lower State bracket, where the T-Breds will face the winner between Conway and Summerville on Saturday. The Conway-Summerville matchup was set for Thursday but got rained out and will be played at 2 p.m. today.
A Summerville win would mean a road trip for the T-Breds, while a Conway victory would give Polewski’s squad another home game.
Either way, the South Aiken skipper said he was glad his team was able to start its playoff run with a victory.
“Well, you want to stay in that winner’s bracket,” Polewski said. “In a double-elimination tournament, you lose early, it’s a long way to getting out. It can be done, but it’s a lot tougher, especially on your pitching.”
Jeremy Timmerman has a journalism degree from Mercer University and has been at the Aiken Standard since June 2010.
Staff photo by Jeremy Timmerman South Aiken's Taylor Widener follows through on an RBI double during the first inning against Richland Northeast on Thursday.×
Staff photo by Jeremy Timmerman South Aiken's Jamie Morlan delivers a pitch against Richland Northeast on Thursday.×
Staff photo by Jeremy Timmerman South Aiken's Landon Holley beats a tag by Richland Northeast's Joe Stanton on a pickoff attempt.×