Easley takes season series against Flame with come-from-behind win

By Bru Nimmons
Staff Reporter

PICKENS — Falling behind 1-0 to county rival Pickens early on Monday night, the Easley Green Wave baseball team had their work cut out for them as they tried to come back.

However, after escaping multiple jams with runners in scoring position, the Wave finally found their groove in the batter’s box late to pull out a 7-1 win and take the season series 2-1 over the Blue Flame.

“That was an unbelievable effort from those guys,” Easley head coach Gill Payne said. “They’ve been battling all year.”

The Green Wave needed a standout effort on the mound and in the field to stay in the game, but when they got that it was only a matter of time before they got going in the batter’s box. However, it certainly wasn’t easy against Pickens’ Ryan Ford.

Ford held Easley off the board over his first five innings, giving up just three hits and striking out three Green Wave batters.

Easley started to show some fight in the sixth, getting Gavin Harvey into scoring position when freshman first baseman Jonathon Sonderfan went to bat. In heartbreaking fashion for the Blue Flame, Sonderfan reached base on an error after a dropped third strike as Mason Bryant’s throw struck him as he ran to first, allowing Harvey to score and tie the game.

In the seventh inning, errors continued to haunt the Blue Flame as another throwing error on a bunt by Payton Anders scored Alex Mitchem to end Ford’s night and start the Green Wave run.

“He pitched 12 of 21 innings in the series and he saved his best two performances for last,” Pickens head coach Matt Smith said of Ford. “I hate that we couldn’t get the job done for him.”

C.J. Martin came on in relief of Ford and the Blue Flame collapse continued, with four straight batters reaching for Easley  before the Blue Flame finally picked up their first out. By inning’s end, the Wave had put up six runs to take an insurmountable 7-1 lead.

While the Wave win wouldn’t have been possible without a late scoring outburst, Easley might have been in a much different position if not for some crucial plays in the field in the middle innings.

With starter Levi Recio struggling in the second, Easley  second baseman Payton Anders made a jumping grab on a hard-hit liner, catching the Blue Flame off guard before turning a double play.

Then, when Recio was pulled at the start of the third after walking Pickens’ Martin, sophomore pitcher Brayden Bryson did strong work in relief, quickly getting out of the inning  and holding the Flame off the board over three innings.

After Bryson came off in the sixth after a leadoff walk, the Green Wave turned to senior USC Sumter commit Carter Morgan, who picked up three outs in two pitches before getting the win in the next inning.

“Levi struggled a little bit early, then BB (Bryson) came in and got us an immediate double play and Carter comes in and does the same,” Payne said. “These pitchers have done it all year, and there were some big defensive plays.”

With the win, the Green Wave managed to secure the second or third seed in Region 1-4A and will take on the Westside Rams for the higher seed on Wednesday. According to Payne, he likes his team’s chances against anybody.

“I feel good about these guys every time I go out,” Payne said. “Every game I expect them to win.”

Meanwhile, the loss eliminated the Blue Flame from playoff contention, as they will finish the season against Seneca on Wednesday.

“I just challenged the boys,” Smith said. “Even though we don’t have anything to play for as far as playoffs go, we have four seniors who have given their all for this program and we’re going to go out and try to win for them.”


Easley 7, Pickens 1

EHS 000 001 6 7 7 1

PHS 100 000 0 1 5 4


WP: Morgan 2 IP, K

LP: Ford 6 IP, 5H, 2R, BB, 5K

EHS: Recio 2-4, R, 2B; Harvey 2-4, R, RBI, BB.

PHS: Lewis 2-3, R, 2B; O’Sullivan 1-3, RBI.