The high school baseball season ended almost as soon as it began.
“You play on a Friday night and then on Saturday they tell us that it’s over,” said Carolina Forest assistant baseball coach Tom Pasco. “We had hope for the season coming back, but it just depended on where the country was and where our area was when it came to this virus.”
Despite the abrupt end of the prep season in March, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans stepped in Friday to give local seniors a chance to play one last time together.
Aynor, Carolina Forest, Conway, Green Sea Floyds, Loris, Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, Socastee and St. James were all featured in the “Seniors Last Swing event at TicketReturn.com Field. Other regional programs such as Georgetown, Waccamaw and West Brunswick participated as well.
While this was not the way seniors had hoped to end their high school careers, the games gave some closure to players, parents and coaches who participated in Friday night's doubleheader.
“I am good friends with the St. James head coach and he was really excited that he got to be with his seniors one last time,” Pasco said. “I know we were excited to be with our seniors one more time. It was a great night to play ball, reminisce and make some more memories.”
St. James pitcher Shawn Taylor agreed.
“This was a great event put together by the Pelicans and area coaches to bring us all together and play ball one last time,” he said. “For me, I was definitely excited to play with my teammates and a few other schools tonight.”
“Whether these kids were going to further their careers at the next level or just have the opportunity to play their final game, I think this was for all of them participating,” said Matt Taylor, Shawn Taylor’s father.
Shawn Taylor will be attending Coker University in the fall. He's optimistic about playing college ball next spring.
“This along with the summer ball I’ve been doing is really going to help me prepare for that,” he said. “My goal is to get some good innings in, continue to work on my game and of course stay healthy.”
The 12 high schools were split up into four different teams and each game lasted seven innings instead of the traditional nine. In the first game, Team One - which featured Aynor, Loris and Socastee - took on Team Two - Carolina Forest and West Brunswick.
After a slow start in game one, things really picked up in the final two innings as Carolina Forest pitcher David Wellons drove in two run with a double into right field, tying the game at the top of the seventh.
“It was great seeing our guys do what they do out in the field,” Pasco said. “It was great to see that skill set we have seen in them showcase over the past four years.
West Brunswick’s Jordan Wilkes gave Team Two a 4-3 lead with an RBI single. The lead could’ve been extended to two runs, but Wellons stumbled while trying to come home and then stumbled again when trying to get back to third base. The mishap was enjoyed by the fans, his teammates and his coaches as the game was really more about giving the seniors one last opportunity to take the field rather than winning and losing.
“You could say that it was the long layoff, or in David’s case you might feel like you’re a little faster than you are,” Pasco said with a chuckle. “ I know that that might’ve been a little embarrassing, but it was all in good fun. When this group comes back for the 30th reunion, they will certainly be talking about that.”
Team One made a comeback to tie the game at 4 runs apiece but since only seven innings are being played, the game ended in a tie.
The second game that featured Team Three (Myrtle Beach, St. James and Waccamaw) and Team Four (Conway, Georgetown, Green Sea Floyds and North Myrtle Beach) ended with an 8-3 victory for Team 3. Team Three got off to an early 4-0 by the 3rd inning and never looked back.
These games were originally scheduled for earlier in the week and a seniors event for a local softball players would’ve taken place on Thursday. Due to rain, the baseball games were pushed to a Friday doubleheader.
The softball “Seniors Last Swing” event is set for July 7. Tickets that were purchased for the softball event on June 25 will still be honored on July 7. Tickets are available online through the Pelicans website.