Tuesday, April 22, 2014
It has come down to the final three games for the North Augusta High School baseball team.
The Jackets (9-7, 2-5 Region 5-AAAA) have their backs against the wall.
Though they won a non-region game against Swansea in dramatic fashion, 6-5, to wrap up the Sandlapper Invitational, the team must navigate rough waters.
The team were to face Aiken at home in a scheduled game on Tuesday and head on the road to Dutch Fork on Friday. They will conclude their season in a scramble of sorts with South Aiken.
Despite the rainy weather on Friday, the game between the Jackets and T-Breds went on as scheduled.
Trib Reece took the mound for the hosts, and the rain looked to cause some problems for the Jackets. South Aiken struck first with a run on a passed ball, but North Augusta responded in the third inning. Ryan Hammond drove in Corbin Lutier and Rashad Byrd drove in Dre Dunbar on a fielder’s choice to stake the Jackets to a 2-1 lead.
South Aiken stormed back and took the lead 3-2 in the top of the fourth. With the rain coming down and the game looking more and more likely to get called, Ryan Lark got on base and was eventually plated by Lutier on a sacrifice fly.
Umpires called the game in the top of the fifth with no count or outs. It will be made up at 6 p.m. on April 28.
“I guess that the thing is that it’s a big game for both of us because we’re both down and we’re trying to make it into the playoffs,” said Vic Radcliff, the Jackets’ head coach. “When the umpires stopped it, they said it was getting too muddy, and the rain was getting a little too heavy. For both sides, it would be best not to let the weather determine the outcome of the game.”
The original plan for the game was to get it in on Saturday, April 19, but rain took it out of the teams’ control. Lark, one of the team’s senior leaders, said that the weather doesn’t change the team’s mindset.
“I’m sure a few guys have added a little pressure to the games, but if we want to win we have to play like we did against Fox Creek or Evans,” he said. “I feel that when we have our backs against the wall, we play better. It would be better if our backs weren’t against the wall to start with.”
North Augusta is battling with South Aiken, White Knoll and Aiken for the final two playoff spots. Lexington and Dutch Fork are comfortably already in, and with games to play North Augusta controls its own destiny. If they win all three games they are in, if they win two they have a chance, however tiebreakers would determine their fate.
Another game that is up in the air as of this time, is the team’s scheduled contest with Midland Valley. The Jackets were supposed to play the Mustangs on Saturday before conflicts and inclement weather. Radcliff said that game may not be made up, due to both teams currently having region obligations that need to be taken care of.
Scott Rodgers is the news editor at The North Augusta Star and has been with the paper since 2013. Follow him on Twitter @NAStarRodgers.