It took three days to get through a full game, but Byrnes bested the Easley High baseball team in an 8-2 outing on Saturday.
Weather delays haunted the beginning of the playoffs, forcing a game that was supposed to begin on Thursday to be delayed until Saturday. Although three trips to Byrnes was not what Head Coach Roger Finley had in mind, he says his team was simply outplayed.
“We’re not going to make excuses,” said Finley. “We went down there three times, and that was the first time I’ve done that in 30 years. You can use that as an excuse if you want, but they are a very good baseball team.”
Byrnes was responsible for Easley’s early departure from the playoffs last season, and Finley says he was expecting some difficult competition this year as well.
“I knew it was going to be hard,” said Finley of the first round matchup. “They’ve (Byrnes) got almost everybody back. They swing the bats really well and play great defense. We knew it was going to be really hard, and it was.”
The game was delayed in the first inning, with Byrnes on top 2-1. After the delay was over on Saturday, Easley knotted the score at two, and had a solid chance to pile on some runs.
“We had a chance in the second inning,” said Finley. “The game was tied and we had the bases loaded. We had a chance to get a couple more runs and have a big inning, but we had two outs and didn’t come through.”
Poor defense allowed Byrnes to get their offense going.
“We had an inning that we played bad and made a couple of errors,” said Finley. “We gave up four or five runs, and you can’t do that against a good baseball team. You just need one bad inning, and the losses will start coming.”
Ace pitcher Stephen McKnight wasn’t able to hold on through an offensive onslot for Byrnes.
“(Stephen McKnight) didn’t pitch bad,” said Finley. “He only threw 17 pitches before it got rained out. The games we have lost this year have usually been because of poor defense. I’ve always been a defensive guy and a pitching guy because that is what is going to keep you in ball games.”
Moving past the loss to Byrnes, Easley still has a shot in the double elimination playoffs. The Green Wave faced Lancaster on Monday.
“We’re probably going with (Tucker) Burgess (on the mound against Lancaster),” said Finley. “We’re fighting for our lives right now, and he’s one of our best. We will have Wil Hartsell ready to go and McKnight will be on the shelf.”
Despite the setback in the first game, the goal for this squad still remains the same.
“Our goal is to try to get back to the championship game,” said Finley. “We’ve done it before. All we need to do is win two games. We’ll go over there and play hard.”