LEXINGTON, S.C. – Chesnee High School baseball is further documentation that there may be something truthful but yet still inexplicable about trisynthesis, the theory that tragedy happens in threes.
The Eagles this season lost the legendary Dean Jones, their beloved former longtime coach; Bob Foos, the father of player Joey Foos; and then on Saturday, the 2A state championship game in another tearful ending.
Latta scored a run in the bottom of the sixth inning to break a tie and held on for a 4-3 victory at Lexington County Baseball Stadium. The Vikings’ winning run was scored by a player who struck out badly but managed to get to first base on what was actually a wild pitch. He scored on an out, a fly ball to center.
That, for the Eagles, was rather tough to swallow.
“ It’s hard,” Joey Foos said. “It’s hard to prepare yourself for a loss like the ones we’ve had. … I would’ve loved to win it for my dad. But it just didn’t happen.”
Foos had the game-tying hit in the top of the sixth as the Eagles scored three runs to bounce back. Those were not boos by the Chesnee crowd. They were saying, “Fooooooos.”
Chesnee put four leadoff men on base in the first five innings but couldn’t score. There were some hard-hit balls in the fifth, though. A fly ball to the wall in center by Foos, a fly ball by B0 Walker grabbed on the run in left and a then shot barely foul to left by pinch-hitter Jonathan Bishop.
“ I told the guys they were doing the right things,” Chesnee head coach Scott Wease said. “The balls just weren’t falling in for us. Unfortunately, that’s how baseball is sometimes. But they never got down. They just kept playing.”
Still trailing 3-0 in the sixth, Kobe Miller (2-for-4) had a leadoff single and stole second base. Dawson Williamson doubled in the first run. Nolan Hammett (2-for-3) singled in the second run. Colin Turner singled to keep it going. With two out, Foos knocked in the tying run.”
Foos took off to steal second and Turner was caught leaning away from third, changing his mind about going home and attempting instead to get back, only to be trapped.
In the top of the seventh, one out, Latta relief pitcher Hunter Sawyer called timeout and threw up next to the mound.
“ That was a new one for me,” Latta head coach Don Cribb said. “Thirty-seven years and that was new for me. He has wanted the ball in each of the three games. He finally gets it and pukes.”
Somehow, Sawyer gathered himself. He spit a few more times, wiped his chin with a towel from an umpire and then got the final two outs on a strikeout and a ground ball to second.
“ It was the heat. It was rough,” Sawyer said. “I just had to focus and do it for my teammates. We’ve been trying to win this for a long time.”
Latta has played for a state championship for six straight years and this was the first title since 1A in 2015. The Vikings were runners-up in 2016 and 2017.
“ It’s been a little frustrating,” Cribb said. “But, gosh, we ran up against another great team. Three games (in the state-title series) and they all could have gone either way. Chesnee is such a quality team.”
Chesnee was looking for its first state championship since 2013 under Wease. The Eagles won four under Jones (2010, 1988, 1984 and 1983). They were runners-up in 2009 before that last title for Jones.
“ I’m proud of my guys,” Wease said. “They could’ve quit, but they never quit. … It’s definitely been an emotional season. These guys have fought through adversity all year long. I’m just proud to be a part of Chesnee baseball.”