BYRDS – The Dorchester Academy baseball team collected seven hits and took advantage of eight errors by Holly Hill Academy to take a 7-4 win in game three of the SCISA Class A state championship series on Thursday.
In the battle of the Raiders squads, DA played solid defense and got six innings of five-hit pitching from Chase Way to earn the title trophy in the neutral site game at Woodland High School.
“I just wanted to throw strikes and let my defense do the work, knowing we would come out on top,” Way said. “They (HHA) had our number all season and they got us in game two of this series, but I never doubted my team. I knew we could do it.”
Not only was it a big win against the 2016 state champions and the program’s biggest rival, but it was also the third state title for the DA athletic program this spring semester, after the girls basketball team and softball team took state championships.
“Over the last six years, us and Holly Hill have been the class of what’s going on (in SCISA Class A baseball),” DA head coach Chris Mizzell said. “They are still very good and will be very good next year.
“But, this means everything to us right now. A good friend of mine, Jimbo Mims, started out with us and he died of cancer two years ago. We wore his initials on our hats and I said I wouldn’t retire this hat until we won a state championship. So, it’s getting retired tonight. This has been an awesome year at Dorchester Academy – three state championships in the last three months.”
Josh Chinners led DA with three hits and 2 RBI on Thursday night, as no other batter in the game had multiple hits. DA senior Jacob Reeves did reach base four times and scored three runs for the winning Raiders.
“We worked hard every pitch, played good defense, and in the end it worked out for us,” Chinners said. “It was just do whatever it took to move runners for us.
“Small ball definitely won this one. We had hardly any deep balls, just base hits. It’s an amazing feeling. We were hearing it from our girls (about their titles), and if we didn’t win this one we were going to hear about it on Monday.”
Josh Siau pitched five-and-two-thirds innings for HHA, giving up just three hits and four walks, but shouldering the loss. Even Boyd pitched the final one-and-one-third innings, allowing four hits and two earned runs.
HHA struck first, with Hanks Avinger leading off the bottom of the first inning with a hit-by-pitch pass and Even Boyd following with a single. Third batter Andrew Siau grounded into a fielder’s choice that resulted in an error, allowing Avinger to score from second. One out later, Josh Siau singled to center to move Boyd to third. Boyd then scored on a Way wild pitch. The 2-0 lead lasted through the first two innings, as each team stranded three base runners.
“Once we got the bugs out and helped them with our errors in the first inning, we were ready to play,” Mizzell said. “The rest of the way, it was just put the ball in play and see what happens on offense for us.”
In the top of the third inning, DA had a two-out rally, with Reeves and Chase Kennedy reaching base on consecutive HHA fielding errors. Chinners then hit into a third straight HHA error, plating both Reeves and Kennedy for a 2-2 game.
In the bottom of the third, Way pitched into a groundout and two popouts to keep HHA off the bases. In the fourth, he pitched for two strikeouts and a flyout to retire the side.
In the top of the fifth, Way helped his own cause, getting a one-out single and advancing to third on a steal of second that resulted in a throwing error. Way then came home on another HHA fielding error off a batted ball by Reeves. Chinners then delivered a two-out RBI-single to score Reeves for a 4-2 lead.
HHA looked primed to answer in the bottom of the fifth, as Marion Infinger and Avinger led off with back-to-back singles. But, one flyout later, Reeves made the play of the year at first base with a diving snag of a liner and the tag out of Avinger for an inning-ending double play.
After a flyout and a groundout in the top of the sixth, DA got a base runner when Clayton Jackson reached on a walk. Boyd then replaced Josh Siau on the mound. The first batter Boyd faced was Lance Brownlee, who singled to left to score Jackson for a 5-2 lead.
HHA got that run back in the bottom of the sixth, as Nick Strickland reached on a leadoff error, took second on a Josh Siau walk, took third on a wild pitch and then scored on a fielder’s choice off a grounder by Jordan Boyd.
DA got leadoff batter Reeves on with a single. He stole second, took third on a fielder’s choice groundout by Kennedy, and then scored on an RBI-single by Chinners. Colby Weeks came on to pinch run for Chinners, stole second base, and then scored on the eighth HHA error of the game.
Down 7-3 in their final at-bat and facing freshman reliever Rhett Mizzell, HHA got a leadoff walk from Avinger, before loading the bases one out later on a single by Andrew Siau and a walk by Strickland. Avinger came in to score one batter later when Josh Siau drove a sacrifice flyout to center field. But, the rally ended on a final flyout, as the DA dugout cleared out for an on-field celebration.
With just four seniors on the DA roster, the program is expected to be ready to defend this state title in 2018.