One nailbiter. One shutout.
The Goose Creek baseball team’s ride through the district tournament to the final was a tale of two contests.
The Gators blanked Ridge View 5-0 on Saturday to advance to Wednesday’s District V championship game against either Lexington or Ridge View. Goose Creek (15-9) will host because top-seeded Lexington was upset on Thursday.
“It’s nice to get to stay home,” Pond said.
The District V winner will play at the District VI winner on Saturday, May 10. Sumter was the unbeaten in that district after it defeated Summerville 11-1 on Saturday.
West Ashley (District VII) and Wando (District VIII) are the other two unbeatens in the Lower State.
Against Ridge View, Chris Singleton’s two-run homer gave the Gators a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning.
Starter Tyler Rio worked six-plus innings and fanned seven hitters to improve to 5-3 on the season. Reliever Bryce Jonason came on to record the final two outs on a double play when Ridge View loaded the bases with one out in the top of the seventh.
That drama pales in comparison to the theatrics produced between Goose Creek and Beaufort two days earlier.
The Gators won 3-2 in nine innings.
Christian Sillanpaa’s single to right field in the bottom of the ninth pushed across the winning run. The Gators loaded the bases with one out to set the stage for Sillanpaa.
“I’ve been coaching 18 years and that’s one of my most enjoyable wins,” Pond said. “To come through in a game like that was special. Both teams were fighting back and forth.”
Jonason earned the win in relief of starter Cody Smith. Jonason tossed a scoreless top of the ninth despite loading the bases. Left fielder Kyle Moore’s lunging catch inches from the fence for the final out denied the Eagles.
Smith threw 123 pitches and struck out 16 batters, one short of tying the school record, in his eight innings of work.
Rio had three hits to lead the Gators against Beaufort. Smith added a pair of hits.
Both of Beaufort’s runs came in the top of the second inning. Jesse Sanborn doubled in the first run and Smith walked in the other.