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Wednesday, Sep. 17, 2014

Jays down Greenville 5-4; advance to district title game

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

(Photo)
Charleston's James Naile scoops up a grounder before throwing out Trevor Bennett (11) at third in the third inning of Tuesday's Class 2, District 2 semifinal match up. Brent Shipman, Staff
CHARLESTON -- Still searching for the first district baseball title in school history, the Charleston Bluejays punched their ticket to the Class 2, District 2 championship game Tuesday afternoon with a 5-4 win over the Greenville Bears.

"We've never won a district championship, but we just keep playing for them," Charleston coach Michael Minner said. "I tell these guys every year, 'one of these years you have to be the first,' and hopefully this is our year."

Tied 4-4 after sixth innings of play, the Bluejays got some late inning heroics from seniors Marshall Stallings and Ethan Browning in the top of the seventh.

Batting leadoff, Stallings started things off hitting a line drive up the middle to put the winning run on first.

Getting new life after nearly getting doubled off on a popped up bunt in the next at bat Stallings went on to steal second before coming around to third on a passed ball with two outs.

Finally, with a full count, Browning sent a drive to left, scoring Stallings for what was the eventual game-winning run.

"Their pitcher was good," Browning said of Greenville's Scott Foster. "He was getting a lot of outs and to get that hit off him and drive in the go-ahead run that was big for us."

"That's a huge hit," added Minner. "When we don't get the bunt down things don't look good. That's two of my seniors that have done it all year for me.

"We've just come to expect that and they haven't let me down so far this year."

Needing only three outs to send his team to the finals, senior James Naile retired the first two batters in the bottom of the seventh before hitting a batter who advanced to second on a passed ball.

Able to hold the tying on on second, however, Naile got a called third strike on the Bears No. 8 hitter to end the game.

"We battled," Naile said. "Honestly, we didn't play our best game. We've played better, but we did what it took to get the win and that's all that matters."

Naile earned the win pitching the final 2 /13 innings in relief.

Coming in with two outs and runners on second and third in the fifth, Naile was able to get the Bluejays out of a crucial jam by inducing a pop fly to left field from Greenville's leadoff hitter to end the inning.

He went on to pitch two more scoreless, hitless innings while striking out three.

Though he had just pitched a six inning complete game on Saturday, Naile said he was good to go if called on.

"(Coach Minner) told me at the beginning of the game to be ready and my last two outings I haven't thrown a whole lot of pitches," he said. "So my arm was fine today and I ended up throwing only like 20 pitches."

Starting the game, Browning went four innings for Charleston giving up four runs on three hits and struck out three. Coming in for two outs, Stallings got the first two outs of the fifth.

On offense, Browning led the Bluejays' seven hit performance going 3 for 4 with a double and three runs batted in. Stallings and Danny McKinney both had two hits apiece.

"We don't know which day we're going to come out and swing the snot out of the bats," Minner said. "We didn't today, but we swung it well enough to win."

Noah Stotts had Greenville's only extra-based hit, a double in the second, with Foster and Tim Hillis each collecting a single.

"We knew that late in the game if they had a one or two run lead we were probably going to see Naile to close it out," Bear's coach Jason Hillis said. "So we were trying to keep it close and keep (the lead) on our side.

"We just missed a few opportunities at the plate."

Charleston will now play the Bloomfield Wildcats for the title Thursday at 4:30 p.m. in Charleston at Hillhouse Park.

Charleston 103 000 1 - 5

Greenville 202 000 0 - 4

WP -- James Naile. LP -- Scott Foster. 2B -- (G) Noah Stotts; (C) Browning.