Resilient Airport baseball rallies, earns rematch with Hartsville

·3 min read
Chris Dearing Photo

When Casey Bradwell took over the Airport baseball program, he leaned heavily on what he learned in his 11 years coaching under Tim Perry.

It was that type of resiliency that paid off in an elimination contest in the Class 4A playoffs against James Island. The Eagles rallied for seven runs in the bottom of the sixth to escape with a 10-8 victory over last season’s runner-up.

Airport (24-7) will travel to Hartsville at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday needing two wins to claim the Lower State championship and a spot in the Class 4A finals. The Red Foxes only need one win to advance.

Hartsville defeated Airport, 1-0, on Monday.

“We have a resilient bunch, and they believe in their ability. We talked today. We’re short on arms, we’re going to run a bunch of different guys out there,” Bradwell said. “Our motto for the last couple of days is how tough are you – mentally and physically.”

Nearly everyone contributed in the decisive sixth inning. Airport took advantage when the Trojans (28-4) took out starting pitcher Owen French and feasted on walks, hit batters and a few key hits to take the lead.

Hunter Epps started the inning with a walk. After a fly out, Adam Rushing doubled to put runners at second and third. John Allen Forrester singled to right to score Epps and the comeback was in full gear.

Luke Palyok added an RBI single to right field and the score was 7-5, still with one out. That was the end of the night for French, who gave way to Noah Brown. Corbin Wright greeted him with a single to left to make it 7-6. Blake Palyok was intentionally walked to load the bases and that strategy backfired on James Island.

After a strikeout recorded the second out, Josh Raines was hit by a pitch to tie the score at 7. Epps followed with a walk to bring in the go-ahead run. The Trojans went to the bullpen again and Miller Harrelson delivered an RBI single. Rushing rounded out the scoring by getting hit by a pitch with two strikes.

“Somebody is going to have to be a hero. Somebody is going to have to step and get the job done. It took a bunch of different guys,” Bradwell said.

Bryson Moss, a senior, was the fourth Airport pitcher of the night. He pitched the final 1 ⅓ innings to earn the win. He only allowed a seventh inning solo home run to Tripp Brown.

Moss talked about the pep talk Bradwell gave before the start of the bottom of the sixth.

“He hopped on us a little bit and asked how mentally tough we are,” Moss said. “There haven’t been many times we had to show it, but this game we were able to show it. That seven spot in the sixth is just a testament to the work we’ve done this season.”

W: Moss. L: Brown. Hitters: A – Forrester 2-4; Corbin Wright 2-4. JI – Osbon HR; Snow 2-4; Brown 2-4, HR; Garner HR; Dukes 2-3.

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