FOREST ACRES — As A.C. Flora coach Andy Hallett walked back to his dugout from the third base coaching box at the end of the first inning, he was disappointed to only have one run on the board.
The Falcons left the bases loaded and the head man for the past 17 years didn’t feel like the approach at the plate was what he was looking for.
It didn’t take long to erase the memory though. The two-time defending champions banged out 17 hits – six of them for doubles – as A.C. Flora cruised to a 17-1 victory over Chester in the opening round of the Class 3A, District 2 baseball playoffs.
That game was halted after the top of the fifth due to the 10-run mercy rule.
“We wanted to have quality at-bats with runners in scoring position,” Hallet said. “That is our biggest thing. It’s not about the first or second pitch, it’s about one swing and we tell them don’t miss. We were patient, didn’t get in bad counts or chase balls out of the zone. When they got their pitch, we did a lot of damage in the middle of the field.”
South Carolina commitments Madison Stokes and Everett Eynon led the charge with three hits apiece. Every hitter in the lineup collected at least one hit and eight of the nine scored runs.
Six of the nine starters drove in at least one run. Eynon drove in four runs and Donald Gillespie added three RBIs.
After scoring one in the first, the Falcons added two in the second, six in the third and eight in the fourth as they batted around in each of the last two innings.
They had six extra base hits and stole six bases. Eynon broke things open with a three-run double in the third. He drove a 3-2 pitch through the hole into right field to push the lead to 7-1. Seven of the runs came were after two outs so the approach was much better after that opening inning.
A.C. Flora (21-3) will host Emerald Monday night at 6:30 p.m in a winner’s bracket contest.
Chester will travel to Travelers Rest in an elimination contest on Monday.
“It’s always important to start 1-0 in the playoffs,” Hallett said.
“We knew we had to play defense and throw the ball across the plate. That is kind of what we do.”