SIMPSONVILLE — With an eighth-grader pitching Game 1 and a sophomore starting Game 2 of the state finals on the mound, the conclusion of Southside Christian’s baseball season ended with the offensive playing its biggest role.
A bunch of senior bats took them home.
Led by Khalil Tolson, Leif Busby and nine-hole hitter Hayden Aston – a senior trio who went a combined 8-of-11 Tuesday – Southside Christian (28-5) won the Class A SCHSL baseball state championship, sweeping Johnsonville in two games to cap off their season at home. The Sabres won game one 13-3 and won Tuesday night, 7-4.
"It feels amazing," Busby said, "It feels amazing coming (all the way) back and winning the state championship, honestly … we finished it strong."
Southside Christian lost last season to Lake View in the Class A championship series. That was their first state finals appearance in school history. The state championship is Southside Christian coach Scott Freeman’s second (the other in 2004 at Mauldin), and Southside Christian’s first in school history.
"We’ve got nine (seniors)," Freeman said, "They all played their roles in different ways … we got some big hits from the seniors tonight."
Tolson sparks comeback, Aston finishes it
Tolson, who hit a two-run shot in the third to give SCS it’s first lead of the game, embraced his mother after his final game ended.
His RBI double in the bottom of the fifth scored Busby to tie it at 4-4. Then sophomore Carson Bolemon slapped an RBI single to make it 5-4 SCS in the bottom of the fifth.
Then in the top of the seventh two outs away from glory, he snagged a line drive to first with the bases loaded and tagged a runner out to end the game. His performance came when the lights were brightest.
In awe of the moment, the Sabres cleanup hitter and one of the Class A home run leaders could barely find the words.
So his senior teammate did.
“We made it a lot more difficult than we probably should have,” said Aston, who had three RBIs from the bottom of the order, laughing. “Khalil came up huge. Great reaction time. As soon as he caught the ball … it was over, we knew it. I went crazy … Oh, man. That’ll be a memory forever.
“To be the first baseball (team) in Southside Christian history to win the state championship – you’ll be remembered forever.”
Aston’s two-RBI single in the fifth tacked on two more runs to make it 7-4 Southside Christian and gave SCS the final lead that it wouldn’t lose.
“Just go up there confident,” Hayden said when asked about his mindset as the No. 9 hitter. “If you think you can do it, you can … being at the nine-hole, you have a job to do, just get on, make something happen. And that’s all that was going through my mind.”
Sophomore Nelson Vaughan started on the mound and threw five innings with four strikeouts. He gave up four runs in the fourth but came back to go three-up, three-down in the fifth and give SCS momentum to take a commanding lead. George Massingill finished it off for Southside Christian during the final two innings.
On the way to the state title, Southside Christian never had an opponent get within three runs during the postseason and outscored opponents a total of 283-91 on the year.
"We've pointed toward this since last year," Freeman said. "I've had the silver medal from last year hanging on my bathroom mirror for the last 365 days. So just a reminder that we wanted to get back here and win it ... I'm so proud of these guys for taking care of it."
Joe Dandron, a Michigan native and graduate of Michigan State University, covers high school sports for The Greenville News. Have a question, story idea, or story tip involving prep sports in the Upstate? Email him at email@example.com or reach out via phone at 864-415-6213.
This article originally appeared on Greenville News: Southside Christian baseball wins SCHSL Class A baseball state title