Tim Christy wasn’t upset that his team dropped a clunker in the Mingo Bay Baseball Tournament. No, the event is a shell of its former self this week, as travel and fan restrictions meant a 19-school field instead of one approaching 100 squads.
His frustration Thursday night was about the fact that very soon Myrtle Beach will have no choice but to avoid the type of fringe meltdown that appeared to give away a very winnable game.
“I would rather have us have some learning experiences in tournament play than instead of next week when the games are really going to matter,” Christy said after the Seahawks fell 4-2 to Lakewood on the third day of the Mingo Bay. “But the disappointing thing for me is we’re better than that. We practice better than that. We play better than that. We just didn’t play well.
“It was not good. Our approach at the plate was not good. Our pitching was terrible. Our situational defense was suspect. We just can’t beat people when we play like that.”
Myrtle Beach, which fell to 7-5 overall on the year with the loss, could certainly point the finger at itself following Thursday’s loss.
Starting pitcher and Clemson commitment Austin Gordon gave up just one run and two hits through five innings while striking out 10. But he also allowed three walks and hit two Gator batters, one of which led to Lakewood’s first run of the game.
Reliever Brandon Bruce walked two and hit another in the sixth — leading to two more runs — and Jeremy Jones then walked the leadoff hitter in the seventh, ultimately helping to bring in the final run of the game.
Meanwhile, the Seahawks’ bats that produced 27 combined runs against Darlington in the team’s first region series of the season weren’t able to muster much against the Gators. They piled up a respectable eight hits (three of which belonged to Brandon Leckie), but also left seven on the bases, four of those in the final two innings.
Four of Myrtle Beach’s spots in the lineup failed to have a batter reach.
“Coach Christy has always told us we’ve got to have a short memory,” said Gordon, who was also batting cleanup on Thursday. “That’s going to be our game plan — forget what happened and just come back and play like we know how we can really play. That’s just all it really is.”
After Friday’s Mingo Bay closer (the pairings for the title games and additional contents are expected to be announced late Thursday night or early Friday morning), moving past the loss to Lakewood will be critical.
That’s because, starting with next week’s home-and-home series against West Florence, every game from here on will help determine if the Seahawks can reach the abbreviated Class 4A postseason. Currently 2-0 in region play, Myrtle Beach still has to face the Knights and fellow contenders Hartsville and North Myrtle Beach.
Any one of those teams is still positioned to win the Region VI-4A crown or finish second. However, two of them will also be fighting for a likely at-large spot into the playoffs. And it will begin with the pitchers, Gordon among them.
A five-walk performance in any of those games could mean playoff elimination.
“You know how good he is,” Christy said. “He knows — maybe unfairly at times — that the expectations are very high for him. You just can’t have innings like that. When you walk leadoff hitters, I don’t care what level it is, they’re going to score 70-something percent of the time.”
Said Gordon: “I’ve got to stay in my zone — know what I can do and don’t do too much. Sticking to knowing what I can do.”