DeShields delivers St. James to Lower State tournament

St. James baseball coach Robbie Centracchio was giving a postgame interview about how much his young team had matured this season when it happened – a sneak-attack shaving-cream pie to the face.

OK, so maybe this group is a bit more sophomoric than his 2011 state title team that graduated 10 seniors and lost seven starters, but they’re also starting to look as good as last year’s squad.

These Sharks, who weren’t supposed to live up to the lofty expectations that were set last season, are suddenly looking like a team ready to contend for and defend its Class AAA state championship.

The Sharks won their third consecutive district tournament game to claim the championship and earn a spot in the Lower State playoffs with a 4-1 victory over visiting Hilton Head Island on Wednesday.

“These guys laid it on the line,” Centracchio said. “Everybody told them they couldn’t get this far again, but they’ve really pulled it together. Now there’s always going to be a tradition here because of these guys.”

St. James’ junior pitcher Anders DeShields allowed one run in the first inning and then settled down to pitch a two-hit shutout, putting the Sharks in position for a rare state-title repeat.

The Sharks tied it up in the fourth and took the lead for good with a three-run explosion in the fifth via home runs by Preston Lane and Gage Glover. That was more than enough offense for DeShields and his defense as the Seahawks failed to threaten.

St. James will have to hit the road for the first round of the Lower State tournament on Saturday against a team to be determined.

Photo by Rancier Photography

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