Predators play for District title

  • Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Staff Photo by Scott Rodgers Fox Creek pitcher Dalton Swires works in his team’s first round playoff game against Great Falls.

The Fox Creek High School baseball team has compiled two impressive playoff wins.

The Predators (22-2) have used the 10-run mercy rule in both games, beating Great Falls and Ware Shoals by a combined 20-0 score.

“You know, it’s been hard, all year, trying to keep our guys focused when we play teams that aren’t necessarily up to some of the competition we’ve played,” Wesley Brown, Fox Creek’s head coach, said after beating Great Falls. “The guys answered tonight. They started off a little slow, but Great Falls’ pitcher had a little to do with that.”

Against Great Falls, Fox Creek went down in order in the first inning but scraped across a run in the second and five more in the third. Neither team scored in the fourth inning, then the Predators brought home four runs in the fifth to end the game early.

“I thought they did a good job; you know, it took a little longer to adjust to that pitcher than I wanted,” Brown said. “But, that’s part of the game, part of the learning curve. They’ve been with us all year, and that’s something we’ve tried to instill into them, to learn from each at-bat and make adjustments. They did a good job of that tonight.”

Swires dominated the matchup, allowing only one hit in his five innings. He struck out nine Red Devils, including a stretch of seven consecutive Ks.

“I don’t feel any pressure,” he said. “They don’t put any pressure on me. Everybody is here with me. If we lose, we lose as a team. If we win, we win as a team. Being an ace doesn’t really matter.”

In Saturday’s game against Ware Shoals, Brown’s team managed single runs in the first, third and fourth innings, before ending the game early with the big fifth inning. Ware Shoals stranded six runners in the game and fell victim to opportunistic defense by the Predators.

“Adam (Hane, starting pitcher) definitely wasn’t on,” Brown said. “He seemed a little sluggish and wasn’t crisp. That was one of his worst outings, but he was able to escape without giving up any runs.”

Part of the peril of the Predators was Ware Shoals pitcher, Chris Panapa, who kept the normally potent offense at-bay.

“Their pitcher did a really good job of mixing up his pitches and we finally put some pressure on them a little bit and they kind of unfolded,” Brown said. “That’s kind of been our thing. If we put pressure on the other team, we find a way to win.”

In the explosive fifth inning for Fox Creek, all nine batters came to the plate. The inning started with a pair of walks, one to Swires and another to Corey Lucas. Deondre Baskett bunted for a single, loading the bases. After a pop-up by Brett Butler, Forrest Whitfield, Terrance Hillary and Roby Gillespie all singled to keep the bases loaded for Darshon Broadwater. Broadwater his a ground ball to second base, which Ware Shoals’ Taylor Bishop threw home. Chris Stone was unable to field the ball, which rolled away and three Predators came around to score. Brandyn Quiller drove in Broadwater, who was on third after the fielding confusion, to end the game.

“I knew that I could end the game, so I knew I had to put the bat on the ball,” Quiller said. “We did what we do best and got the runs in to win. It was a big inning for us.”

Hillary paced the Predators, going 3-for-3, while Whitfield, Swires and Quiller each had two hits.

Fox Creek will face Ware Shoals again in game(s) that were to have happened on Wednesday. If Fox Creek is able to defeat Ware Shoals, they would be District IV champions.

The North Augusta Star

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