TURBEVILLE — Green Sea Floyds had a formidable task ahead of them Friday night in Turbeville.
The Trojans needed to win back-to-back games over East Clarendon if they wanted a spot in the Class A lower state championship series next week.
They will be playing on Monday.
The Trojans dominated Friday's first game 11-1 and won the second in walk-off fashion, beating the Wolverines 5-4 in extra innings. They are the only Horry County baseball team still alive in the playoffs.
“We came to win and that’s exactly what we did,” senior outfielder Jaquan Dixon said. “We had to battle back when we were down. We had to keep the faith to pull it off.”
Here’s how it all went down:
Following a 12-2 win over Branchville Wednesday, Trojans head coach Bradley Strickland was hoping that his team “didn’t use up all the hits.”
“It’s hard to duplicate it,” Strickland said of that type of offensive performance.
Strickland didn’t have much to worry about in game one Friday as the Trojans cruised behind an excellent outing from pitcher Dalton Stroud.
Stroud tossed 5.2 innings, only giving up one run and fanning nine batters in the win.
While the Trojans had a 6-1 lead going into the fourth inning, both team’s offenses went cold, each team either stranding runners on base or going down in order.
Green Sea Floyds got their bats going in the top of the sixth with Stroud driving in a runner to make it 7-1. Senior Aaron Graham cleared the bases in the top of the seventh with a triple to make it 10-1. A wild pitch brought Graham home to make it 11-1 and East Clarendon was run ruled following a stellar relief performance from pitcher Mason Williams.
Despite the strong effort to close game one, Williams struggled to open game two.
The Wolverines started the game with three straight doubles, bringing in two runs and putting the Trojans in a 2-0 deficit going into the bottom of the first.
East Clarendon kept the intensity throughout the early innings and their defense was stellar, forcing the Trojans to strand runners and miss out on bases-loaded situations.
Trailing 3-2 for much of game two, the Trojans kept on fighting.
With two outs in the bottom of the fifth, senior Grayson Carroll blasted one to deep left center to tie things up at three.
The Trojans had a chance to take the lead in the bottom of the sixth with Dixon having the bases loaded, but once again East Clarendon got out of the jam.
In the top of the seventh, Graham made a spectacular grab in foul territory and attempted to throw an East Clarendon runner out at home. But the umpire called the Wolverine runner safe and the Trojans had to come from behind once again.
“We’re a team that can get it done, Graham said.
And get it done they did. Green Sea Floyds catcher Kaden Watson got a big hit. Although Strickland usually brings in a pinch runner for him, Watson looked across the infield at his coach and yelled “let me run.“
“I was all for it,” Strickland said, regarding the confidence his catcher had. “The only reason we bring in a courtesy runner for him is the help save his legs because he has to squat.”
Down to their final out, the Trojans' Hayden Enzor put one in shallow center and brought in Watson — the tying run.
Stroud came back in to relieve Williams, who finished with 111 pitches through 7.2 innings and seven strikeouts. Stroud came up big, closing the inning with a strike out and stranding a Wolverine runner on third.
Graham led off the bottom of the eighth with a single. Stroud walked and Dixon load up the bases with a single, leaving everything to Carroll.
Carroll had played the hero in a win over Branchville on Wednesday, but it would be Graham who sent the Trojans to the lower state championship series when he scored on a wild pitch. The senior was at a loss for words moments after scoring the winning run.
“It feels great,” he said with a big smile on his face.
Friday night's performance proved what Green Sea Floyds' coach has long said about his team: they know how to claw out a victory.
“That’s a scrappy bunch,” Strickland said.
The Trojans will now play a best-of-three series against region rival Lake View for a spot in the Class A state title game.
The two teams have already played each other twice this season, with the Trojans winning both of those matchups. Still, this is playoff baseball. And the Trojans are expecting the best.
“They’ll probably throw their best pitcher,” Graham said. “We just have to come out and hit.”
The Trojans will host the Wild Gators on Monday, with game two to be played at Lake View on Wednesday. Should game three be necessary, it would be played Friday. Times are still to be determined.
After the way last season ended in COVID-19 cancellation, Strickland said “it’s awesome” to be one of the final four still playing ball in Class A.
“To be playing now is a good feeling,” Strickland said.
Other playoff games
In other baseball and softball action, two Horry County teams saw their seasons end Friday while another will keep playing next week.
The St. James softball team fell to Ashley Ridge 4-1 in the district finals.
The Aynor baseball team lost to Gilbert 12-5 in the district finals.
Aynor's softball team, however, hammered its way to the lower state championship series by beating Hanahan 10-9 in game one and taking game two 15-5.
The Blue Jackets will host region rival Dillon on Monday at 6:30 p.m.