Baseball: Panthers, Sharks make late push for playoffs

cfbase-johnsonpitchWhoever said “It’s not how you start, but how you finish” must have been Carolina Forest and St. James baseball fans.

Both teams seemed dead in the water a few weeks ago but surged to Mingo Bay Classic titles and made strong runs down the stretch to earn new life in the playoffs, which get under way Tuesday.

Carolina Forest (11-9) won six of its last eight games and turned an 0-3 start in Region 6-5A play into a 4-6 finish – good for a No. 3 seed. The Panthers travel to West Ashley for the opening round of the District 8-5A double-elimination tournament. Any deep playoff run will likely have to take place on the road, where the Panthers have a winning record this season.

Region 6-5A rival Conway also showed some fight down the stretch to earn an at-large bid to the District 5-5A tournament. The Tigers take on top-seeded Wando on Tuesday.

St. James (11-13) lost nine straight during a cold midseason stretch before winning seven of eight down the stretch. The Sharks were mired in the cellar of Region 7-4A at 0-6 but won their last two to sneak in the backdoor. St. James hits the highway for top-seeded Hartsville in Tuesday’s first round clash in the District 6-4A tournament.

Top-seeded Myrtle Beach (12-7) narrowly missed out on a clean sweep of the region but the Seahawks can still host throughout the District 7-4A tournament, beginning Tuesday against fourth-seeded Lakewood at 6 p.m. at the Ripken Experience.

Second-seeded North Myrtle Beach (13-6-1) welcomes Darlington in the first round of the District 5-4A tournament.

Photo by Joel Beachum

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