WINNSBORO — The Griffins had plenty to cheer about in the first game of the playoffs, clipping the Central of Pageland Eagles’ wings in a 9-6 victory.
The win, during the first baseball playoffs trip for FCHS in five years, made school history. Never before had a Griffin baseball team won a playoff game.
“The players are excited about it,” Coach Scotty Dean said. “We have a lot of young players and if you look at us in the field we certainly aren’t the most talented team around, but the guys play together. They play hard and play good defense at times.”
Staff ace Compton Walker pitched 6 1/3 innings for the Griffins. Eighth-grader Stanely McManus came on to record the final two outs and get the save.
Walker was 1-3 with a grand slam. McManus went 2-4 with a double and scored a run. Chris Boyd was 2-4 with a double, an RBI, a steal and two runs scored.
Dean said all but one of the players he played had at least one hit, as the Griffin bats finally awoke from slumber.
The win earned the Griffins a trip to Kershaw to take on the Andrew Jackson Volunteers. Dean said that program has deep pitching and it showed.
The Griffin hitters were baffled all night by starter Tripp Rawlings who allowed just one hit while striking out 18 Griffins in a 10-1 victory over FCHS. Brandon Adams scratched out the lone Griffin hit in this one, going 1-3 with an RBI.
McManus took the mound for the Griffins, allowing four hits through six innings. He walked two batters to start the seventh inning. At that point FCHS trailed 4-1, but the bullpen allowed those runners to come around and score and break the game open late.
The loss means FCHS plays Central of Pageland in an elimination game at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. The game is at Fairfield Central and was pushed a day later due to rain.
Dean plans to start Compton Walker again for FCHS and hopes his guy can deliver another playoff win. He said Central has a crafty pitching staff of its own with a lot of left-handed pitchers. He compared their top pitcher to former Atlanta Brave Tom Glavine, for the tendency to stay away from hitters and throw pitches with low velocity.
In the first game, FCHS hitters kept their weight back and stayed on top of pitches to chase the starter and claw their way back into a game where they trailed 4-1 in the top of the fourth inning. Adams worked a walk, T Cook doubled and the next batter reached base, setting the stage for Walker’s heroics.
With the bases juiced he smashed one out of the park to give FCHS a 5-4 lead. They carried a 7-4 lead heading into the seventh inning and had enough left in the tank to hold on for the 9-6 win.
Dean liked the match-up with the Eagles. He said if they can mix in timely hitting then they have a chance in the rematch with Central of Pageland.
With all but one player returning next season, the future appears bright for Griffin baseball. For now, Dean and his players are living in the moment, though, looking for another playoff win to extend the season.