On Monday, with the Region 8-2A regular-season championship on the line against Cheraw, Dillon baseball showed up with bats that suddenly held more than a few hits to take a 4-3 win against the Braves.
It was the first time in a long time, maybe all season, that Dillon out-hit its opponent, getting 8 hits to Cheraw’s 6 hits at Bennettsville’s Marlboro County High School field.
Senior southpaw Robbie Brown won a pitching duel with Cheraw’s impressive righty Ben Tillman, while the Wildcats got a boost from Ridge Gurley’s career-best day at the plate.
Brown pitched all 7 innings, allowing just 6 hits against 9 strikeouts to improve his record to 7-2, while boosting Dillon’s overall record to 14-6.
“This was a team effort,” Brown said. “We knew we had to get it done. It’s easy for me to pitch with such a hard-working defense playing behind me.”
Gurley, Dillon’s speedy leadoff hitter, went 3-for-4 with a double, 3 RBIs and a run scored.
“Our team has been battling,” Gurley said. “With only 3 seniors, people said we couldn’t win region. But the coaches believe in us, and we showed that we have heart tonight.”
Gurley admitted that on one of his hits, he had to watch it bound into the outfield, just to enjoy it. Such hits have been few and far between for this Dillon team.
With the win, the Wildcats won the program’s 5th region title in the past 11 seasons. As a No. 1 seed to start lower state playoffs, Dillon will play host to Andrews tonight at 6 p.m. at Dillon’s Memorial Stadium. A win would have Dillon playing another team here on Friday or Saturday.
Cheraw gave Dillon the game that was expected. Having split their two meetings during the regular season, both teams knew that this would be a claw-till-the-end contest.
Tillman pitched well, going 6 innings and allowing just 8 hits and four walks, against 9 strikeouts. Dan Bartel pitched a scoreless 7th for the Braves.
Jason Dupree scored as a pinch runner from third on Gurley’s bouncing grounder in the second. Cheraw answered with Jonathan White scoring from second on a Zach Harrington single in the 3rd inning.
Cheraw went up 2-1 in the fourth, when Jonathan Stokes drilled a leadoff home run over the centerfield fence.
Dillon answered back in the fifth, with J.T. Baxley getting a bouncing RBI-double to hop over Stokes’ head at short and plate Gurley, after Gurley had a leadoff single.
With the game tied 2-2, Dillon made its final offensive outburst in the sixth, as Taylor Langston led off with a walk, Kwinton Smith followed with a bunt single, and Gurley lined a 2-run double to the left-center fence.
“People doubted us, since we lost 8 seniors from last year’s team,” Brown said. “We weren’t supposed to even make playoffs; now we are region champions.”
Recent Dillon Baseball Region Titles: 1999, 2002, 2004, 2008, 2010