Predators bounce War Eagles, playoffs Thursday
Fox Creek’s varsity baseball needed to beat Wagener-Salley to clinch the Region 4-A crown on Monday, and they did just that.
The Predators (20-2, 11-1 Region 4-A) put an exclamation point on their season, beating the War Eagles 1-0 in the season finale. Michael Hill did it all in the win, throwing three hitless innings and 3-for-3 at the plate with three RBIs and a run scored. Hill’s day included a ground-rule double and a triple. He also recently committed to play college ball at USC Aiken.
The win wasn’t the only one for the Predators, who also played Hunter-Kinard-Tyler, Silver Bluff and Abbeville. Fox Creek was able to beat Silver Bluff on Wednesday, 7-6. Dalton Swires picked up the win, and Brent Lacey went 2-for-4 at the plate with three RBIs. Forrest Whitfield went 2-for-3, and Roby Gillespie was 2-for-2 with two RBIs. Thomas Colvin also hit a massive homer.
“He hadn’t had a lot of playing time this year, and he stepped into the first baseman spot the past few weeks,” Wesley Brown, Fox Creek head coach, said. “He hit a mammoth home run that was huge for us. Defensively we’ve struggled a bit recently.”
Fox Creek then turned around to dominate H-K-T to the tune of a 28-4 win. Terrance Hillary picked up the win and also went 2-for-4 at the plate. On Saturday the team then played Abbeville in its final home game of the regular season and won 5-4. Caleb Cox went 2-for-4 and Brandyn Quiller went 1-for-2 with two RBIs.
“The bottom of our lineup is getting on base four or five times a game, and that’s huge no matter who you play,” Brown said.
Both wins over Silver Bluff and Abbeville came against top-10 teams in AA in the state.
“It’s a big confidence booster,” Brown said. “But I think we have sold them to the point that whether we are playing Wagener or whether we’re playing Silver Bluff, it’s no bigger game. They’ve kind of continued to do their thing, though I know the difference in competition. They seem to keep going and show up at the right times.”
Brown, who won a state championship at South Aiken as an assistant coach, also sees a lot of parallels.
“When I was at South Aiken, a lot of things seemed to fall in place throughout the year,” he said. “To this point it looks like all of the breaks have gone our way. Hopefully that’s a good sign.”
Heading into the playoffs, the Predators will play Great Falls, just like their softball counterparts. Fox Creek will play its game at Riverview Park at 7 p.m. on Thursday.
Though Lacey has been the No. 1 starter for the team throughout the year, Brown has chosen to give the pitching assignment to Swires, a freshman.
“The reason for that is our catching situation,” Brown said of the choice. “We have got to get that first win and with Brent we fill more comfortable with having him behind the plate defensively. The second game he’s penciled in to start on the mound.”
The best finish in school history for the Predators came the year before Brown came on board Fox Creek won its district that season. With the win over the War Eagles the Predators were, however, able to reach the 20-win plateau for the first time ever. Brown has won 58 games in his three years at the helm.