BE baseball claims regional title with ‘winner-take-all’ victory over Hawks
The Bishop England baseball team won the Region 7-AAA championship on April 21 to conclude an exhausting but exhilarating schedule of five games in six days.
The Bishops tripped up Hanahan 6-1 in a one-game, winner-take-all playoff game on Saturday at Father Kelly Field to win the region and get a No. 1 seed in the Lower State playoffs, which were scheduled to begin on Tuesday. The Bishops, the No. 1 seed in District 7, were scheduled to play Battery Creek. Hanahan, the No. 2 seed in District 6, was scheduled to play Wade Hampton.
The Bishops were 5-0 during the week to finish the regular season with a 20-1 record. The only loss came against Hanahan, a victory that forced the playoff.
The Bishops’ productive week included two wins over Manning, and wins against Ashley Ridge, James Island and Hanahan. The Bishops outscored their foes 52-7.
Bishop England Coach Mike Darnell was pleased with his pitching staff, which recorded two shutouts in the week.
“Five games is a ton,” Darnell said. “With all of the travel baseball guys play, they are able to handle it (better) than their coaches. It did give us a chance to get some of our less-used guys on the mound and in the field. We were able to see some guys in some situations who may be able to help us off of the bench during the playoffs.”
The Bishops victory against the Hawks for all the marbles was a joint pitching effort between lefty Geoffrey Gilbert and righty Leo Albano.
Gilbert also had a pair of run-scoring hits for the Bishops in the win over the Hawks. The teams have played in some memorable games and some of the players from both schools have even played on travel teams together. The coaches are no strangers.
“Our coaching staffs know each other really well,” Darnell said. “I live in Hanahan and go over to Coach (Brian) Mitchell’s house to watch baseball or football every now and again. I have played with or against some of their other coaches and Bryce Florie coached with us at BE. He did some rehab with our team when he was getting back in to MLB.”
“We text each other all of the time,” he continued. “Those kids and coaches want to beat each other more than most games on our schedule. It is great to play those types of games. It definitely prepares you for the playoffs.”
The victory over Hanahan allowed the Bishops to check off another goal accomplished on its must-do list. Now, the Bishops are ready to defend their Class AAA state title. They are seeking their second straight and third in the last seven years.
“I think every year we set the same goals,” Darnell said. “We expect all of our guys to work extremely hard. We put them through the ringer all off-season and during the year in order to make this time more enjoyable. This is usually the time of the year we are able to focus in and really make a push.”
When it comes to practicing in the playoffs, the team takes a slightly different approach, added Darnell.
“We typically go through our inside game stuff and take batting practice,” he said. “It is more like a pre-game feel to practice, then we go to the weight room and maybe on a ‘fun run.’ At this point in the year we are really trying to brush up on everything and stay fresh for games.”