Slow start costs Braves in Baseball at the Beach final

Socastee advanced to the finals of the Baseball at the Beach on the strength of its pitching. But the Braves’ arms put them in an early hole they couldn’t climb out of in Saturday’s 7-2 loss to Northwestern in the final.

Northwestern took advantage of five walks in the first two innings by Socastee pitchers and scored six runs on only four hits in the first two frames as the Wildcats (4-0) never relinquished the lead to the Braves (3-1).

Northwestern outhit Socastee 10-5 and got a strong outing from Garrett Rast (1-0). Jason Farria (0-1) took the loss for the Braves, but Bubba Martin came on in relief to keep the game within striking distance.

Dalton Smith led Socastee with a 2-for-4 night at the plate, including an infield groundout RBI in the first inning and an RBI double in the seventh. Hunter Renfrow went 2-for-3, but the Braves couldn’t sustain a rally.

Northwestern was led by Tournament MVP Dupree Hart (2-for-3), Jonathan Smith (2-for-3), Drew Patrick (2-for-4) and Careron Norwood, who went 1-for-3 with a two-RBI double in the first inning.

Renfrow and Zach Hyde made the all-tournament team for the Braves, who return to action at 5 p.m. Monday at West Brunswick (NC).

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