The table was set for the Greenwood American Legion Post 20 Braves to knock off Orangeburg Post 4 and to advance to the state tournament in Game 3 of their playoff series Sunday night at John Nave Stadium. In the bottom of the 10th inning, Post 20 loaded the bases with no outs and seemed on its way to a 5-4 win.
But Orangeburg pitcher Chris Sweatman pitched out of that jam, and his team rode that momentum and scored three runs in the top of the 11th to grab a 7-4 advantage. Sweatman then sat down the Braves in the 11th to close out the win and to keep Orangeburg alive in the playoffs.
Game 4 is Monday at 7:30 p.m. in Orangeburg.
"I'm tickled to death for them," Orangeburg coach Frank Leysath said. "I'm thankful to see us win, and we get to play at field (tonight). I don't what will happen (tonight), but we get to play again.
"We're not dead yet."
Orangeburg jumped on top of Post 20 4-1 after four innings, but the Braves slowly chipped away at that lead. Greenwood scratched across two in the fifth, and Trae Coleman walked with the bases loaded in the eighth to tie the game at 4-4.
Neither team could break the stalemate in the ninth, nor did Orangeburg threaten in the 10th, going down in order.
Isaiah Furqueron led off Post 20's half of the 10th inning by driving a ball out to center field. Post 4's Aaron Crandall got turned around trying to catch it, and the ball bounced off his glove while Furqueron glided into second. Cody Adams followed with a single and Hamp Riley reached after a catcher's interference to load the bases with nobody out for Coleman.
Coleman grounded into a fielder's choice right back to Sweatman, who threw out the runner at the plate to keep the game even. Di'Markus Sanders then lined out to Devin Fogle at first for th esecond out of the inning.
Sweatman closed out the inning by striking out Matthew Bridges to escape the jam.
"Baseball is a game of momentum, and we had them on the ropes there," Post 20 coach Mack Hite said. "We just didn't get it done. It's unfortunate for us, but they got the momentum after that.
"It's always tough to bounce back after we're so high, about to win the game and then you don't. Momentum takes its course and they come back to win the game."
Crandall led off the top of the 11th with a single, and Noah Cason followed with a sacrifice bunt. Crandall moved all the way up to third on the play because the Braves had no one covering third. Will Gee then slapped a single into left field to plate the go-ahead run.
But Orangeburg was not finished. After Dakota Way singled and Evan Graves walked, Cameron Huddleston laced a two-run single into left field to increase the lead to 7-4.
Sweatman then put away Greenwood in order in the bottom of the 11th to clinch the victory.
"I think (getting out of the 10th) was a very big momentum swing," Leysath said. "We've been battling hard, they've been battling hard all three of these games. I guess it was our time tonight."
Post 20 lost more than just the game, too. Top pitcher Blake Smith, who played first base in Game 3, broke three orbital bones when a ball hit him in the face while diving to catch a pick-off throw in the third inning. Smith was in line to start Game 4 but is out for the rest of the series.
"Losing Blake, that's tough," Hite said. "That's part of the game, though. We'll have to have some guys step up, but we've got plenty of guys on the team who are ready for the opportunity."
Orangeburg 030 100 000 03 — 7 18 4
Greenwood 010 020 010 00 — 4 10 0
WP: Chris Sweatman; LP: Matthew Bridges
Leading hitters — O: Noah Cason 3-5, 2 RBIs; Michael Gartman 3-6, 2B, R; Ryan Sandifer 3-5, RBI, 2 R. G: Cody Adams 3-5; Blake Smith 1-1, 3B, R.