Seneca wins Game 1 of Class 3A title series
By Alex Maminakis
SENECA — Behind a stellar pitching performance from Tristen Hudson and clutch at-bats late in the game, the Seneca High School baseball team took Game 1 of the three-game Class 3A state championship series over Bishop England on Saturday, 2-0.
Hits and runs were hard to come by Saturday as Hudson and Bishop England pitcher Shawn Runey each burned through the first four innings without allowing a run. But in the bottom of the fifth, Seneca was able to break through.
Walker Lathrop led off the bottom of the fifth inning with a single, followed by Coleman Smith executing a sacrifice bunt — Lathrop made it safely to second base and was awarded third on defensive interference. Petey Ridley then stepped into the batter’s box and smacked the first pitch he saw into center field, scoring Lathrop. The second run came an inning later, when Jack Fassino launched a sac fly to right field, scoring Furman Wilson, who had singled and advanced to third.
“I had a feeling we wouldn’t hang nine or 10 hits on (Bishop England) like we have been,” Seneca coach Andy Bay said after the game. “But we worked hard the last two days on when we do get runners on base, moving them around. And that paid off tonight — the two bunts, the bunt and run at the end — they executed and, in my opinion, that’s what won the ballgame, along with a great pitching performance.”
Hudson pitched 6.2 scoreless innings and allowed just two hits while striking out eight. He got into some trouble in the first and fourth innings by allowing walks and hitting a batter, but was able to strand the Bishop England runners.
“The older I get the more I realize, every now and then you have a kid that has something you can’t coach, and he’s one of them,” Bay said of Hudson. “He competes, he’s got several pitches that he can use and throw for strikes. … The competitiveness, the bulldog in him on the mound, is stuff you can’t teach.”
All-Stater Hudson also had help from his defense Saturday, particularly from third baseman Jack Fassino — also an All-State selection — and first baseman Cayde Hamilton, who each made impressive catches on hard line drives early in the game that prevented the Bishops from gaining any offensive momentum.
Seneca collected five hits in the game from Wilson, Lathrop, Ridley, Hamilton and Matthew Burgess.
Game 2 of the state championship series is Tuesday at Bishop England High School in Charleston. A win by the ‘Cats would mean a state title for Seneca, while a loss would lead to a decisive Game 3 next Saturday. Bay and his team were excited after the Game 1 win, but they know there’s still a lot of work to be done. Tuesday’s game is their focus now.
“The coach in me just refuses to completely celebrate,” Bay said Saturday. “Today I’m just gonna go tell (the team) this is just one step closer. Is it awesome? No doubt — in front of the home crowd like this, to go up one game. (Bishop England is) good, it’s not gonna be easy.”