Predators stumble against Knights, face uphill battle
Caleb Cox’s walk off single in the seventh inning against Christ Church boosted the Predators to a district title.
The Fox Creek High School varsity baseball team trailed for much of the game and struggled against Christ Church’s Cole Bradley. However, the Predators’ (24-3) Dalton Swires, Bradley’s opposite number, kept his team within striking distance. The win allowed Fox Creek to avoid a second game as part of a doubleheader.
“It was huge,” Wesley Brown, Fox Creek head coach, said. “When you lose that first game a lot of times all the momentum swings. Though I did feel comfortable if we lost the first game that we would be OK they had one pitcher (Bradley), and he wouldn’t be able to throw both games.”
When speaking about Cox, Brown said it was “kind of funny he hadn’t had the bigger hits in his career.”
“This year I challenged him, and he’s done a good job staying with it,” Brown said. “I told him after the game that’s what it takes and you get rewarded when you stay positive and keep your mindset that way.”
There wasn’t much rest in store for the Predators following the win on Wednesday. Fox Creek held its prom on Friday, and the team had to turn around and play a game on Saturday in rainy conditions against Lamar. That proved to be another victory, albeit in a more convincing fashion, 10-2.
“The kids were ready to play, and the biggest worry in the whole wide world was the prom the night before,” Brown said. “With teenage boys, sometimes they don’t make all of the right decisions. I tell you what, though, I challenge any other program to have the quality of kids we do to make the right decisions and to keep their responsibilities in order. ... They came up with a team curfew, and everyone abided by it, and it made me proud because it’s what we have been teaching them about life.”
Brent Lacey picked up the win on the mound. The weather proved to be an aid to the team, as Brown has been known to have his team practicing no matter the conditions. Thanks to the school’s enclosed batting cage, the team is also able to take dry swings. The coaching staff also got the team out for practices in the rain in case a situation arose like the one on Saturday.
Playing the team’s toughest test to date, a St. Joseph’s team that ranks No. 1 in the state, Fox Creek dropped its first playoff game, 10-1.
“St. Joe’s, in my opinion, can compete at the AAAA level,” Brown said. “I really believe, truthfully, that at the A level we have the only shot to beat them. They’re very well coached, and they don’t make mistakes and capitalize off everybody else’s. That’s why they’ve only lost one game in two years.”
The loss now puts Fox Creek on its heels a bit, as the team will play on Wednesday at 6 p.m. against Lewisville at Riverview Park in a must-win game. A win would set up a rematch against St. Joe’s, on the road on Friday. The Predators would need two wins against the one loss Knights in enemy territory to punch their ticket to the state title series, which starts on Monday.
Scott Rodgers is a reporter at the North Augusta Star and has been with the paper since January 2013 after previously working at the Aiken Standard. He is a graduate of Alvernia University and currently attends Drexel University.