Woodruff Beats Broome On Diamond
The 2023 high school baseball season officially got underway on Monday night with a couple of games locally. Tuesday night, the Broome Centurions opened their regular season by hosting the Woodruff Wolverines. These 2 programs are no strangers to one another. They have been region foes over the last few years. But, now with the realignment, the only things they share are that they are both 3A teams in Spartanburg County.
The Wolverines are under new leadership this season, with Wesley Brown having taken over after stepping away from his previous post at Spartanburg at the end of the 2022 season. So far, his team has shown to have a different energy since he took the helm. Recently, the Wolverines baseball program has been stuck at the bottom of their region. Sure, maybe part of that is that region 3-3A was loaded prior to realignment. But, still, they have been stuck in the doldrums for a few years.
They began the preseason with a 1-2 run in the Steve Sanders Tournament where they beat Pickens 12-1 to start, dropped a 5-0 decision to eventual tournament champion Blue Ridge, and ended with a 9-2 loss to Byrnes. Sure, you cannot read too much into preseason tournaments, but the big thing to note is that they scored 14 runs over their first 2 games. They have not had that kind of offensive output in a while.
On the flipside, Broome had a forgettable preseason, starting 0-3. The Centurions lost 8 players from a year ago, including a couple of their best arms – Jeb Dawson, Brady Jones, Adam Stacy, Tristan Horne, etc. Coming into the season, Coach Waddle was touting that he would have several guys get a chance to pitch this season, but named 2 that would for sure see plenty of innings – Will O’Shields and Hunter Jolly.
It was Will O’Shields who got the nod for Broome on a cold and breezy Tuesday night. He worked his way through the first inning with relative ease once he settled after a walk sandwiched between 2 singles and an error led to giving up an unearned run. But, following the top of the 1st inning, the game took a dark turn. Ok, that’s an exaggeration. But, the lights did short out, causing them to have to be reset, which delayed the game for a little over 15 minutes.
Broome managed to take the lead in the bottom of the 1st after Woodruff starter Zack Kent scattered 2 hits between 2 hit batsmen and a walk. Jackson Fowler delivered a 1 out RBI single and Hunter Jolly drew a bases-loaded walk with 2 out to make it 2-1 heading to the 2nd.
The Top of the 2nd inning was one of the 2 key pivotal moments in this game for the Wolverines. Will O’Shields came back out and faced 5 more hitters batters, getting tagged for 5 straight hits to start the frame. In the end, he surrendered 6 runs, just 3 of which were earned, walking 1 and striking out 1. He had to exit the game having failed to record an out in the 2nd frame after Walt Caldwell rocketed a liner off of the base of O’Shields’ shin that ricocheted and went for an infield single. The incident was almost reminiscent of the liner that Charlie Morton took off his ankle in game 1 of the 2021 World Series that ended up breaking his ankle, although because O’Shields walked off, it may not be quite that serious.
O’Shields was replaced by Hunter Jolly, who surrendered 1 more earned run, making for a 7-2 deficit as the game went to the bottom of the 2nd.
The Centurions did a good job of chipping away over the next 2 innings, with Hunter Jolly holding the Wolverines scoreless for consecutive innings for the only time over the 3rd and 4th. Broome added a run on after the leadoff man Nathaniel Carpenter drew a walk. He took 2nd on a wild pitch and moved up 90 more after Paul Lee drew a walk. He came around to score on a fielder’s choice play where Silas Brown grounded to the shortstop, resulting in a force play that erased Hunter Jolly 6-4 for the 2nd out.
The big blow came on a Nathaniel Carpenter 3 run homer out of right that cut the deficit to just 1 run – 7 to 6 – heading to the 5th.
That was as close as this game ever came. In relief of Jolly, Paul Lee, Christian Giles, and Nathaniel Carpenter combined to give up 8 earned runs on 9 hits with 5 walks over the final 3 innings. The Centurion bats mustered just 2 more runs on 4 hits over the last 3 innings, falling 15-8.
Broome was led by Nathaniel Carpenter, who went 1-2 with the homer for 3 RBIS and 2 runs scored. Christian Giles, Paul Lee, Silas Brown, and Hunter Jolly each tallied an RBI. Giles was 2 for 4 with a run scored, Lee was 2-2 with a couple of walks, Jolly went 1 for just 1 official AB with 3 walks, and Brown was 0-3.
Woodruff was led by Walt Caldwell, who went a perfect 2 for 2 at the dish with 4 RBIs, 2 runs scored, and a pair of walks. Nemo Cochran was also perfect at the plate, going 3-3 with 2 RBIs and 4 runs scored and a walk.. Carson Tucker knocked in 2 runs on a 3 for 4 night with a run scored. Ashton Mock was 3 for 5 with an RBI and 2 runs scored. Zach Kent added to his nice start (3 innings, 2 hits, 6 walks, 3 earned runs, 2 K’s) that earned him the win with a 2 for 4 effort at the plate, tallying 2 runs scored. Caden Barnaby was 3 for 4 with 3 runs scored. Whit Barnaby also logged a run scored, going 1 for 3.
Broome will get back to action on Thursday when they meet the Wolverines again at Woodruff for the finale of the 2 game set. Woodruff will also play 1 game on Wednesday at Southside Christian.