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THA regroups during baseball break

  • Anthony Garzilli/Jasper County Sun Times Thomas Heyward coach Nic Shuford said the time is right for his team’s Easter break. The Rebels, who had lost three straight games, don’t play until April 18.
  • Anthony Garzilli/Jasper County Sun Times Freshman Louie Smith is one of 10 pitchers Thomas Heyward has used this season.
  • Anthony Garzilli/Jasper County Sun Times Bryce Tillotson is tied with Blake Bannon for lead in RBI with 22.

It’s a good time for a rest, according to Thomas Heyward baseball coach Nic Shuford.

The Rebels are in the midst of Easter break. Their game last Friday at Dorchester Academy was their last until they host Hilton Head Prep on April 18.

The 11 days between contests might be good timing for THA (9-7) considering it was in the middle of a three-game losing streak.

Included in the streak was an 8-4 loss to St. Andrew’s on March 31. Roman Padgett was 3 for 3 and Zach Bond was 2 for 2 with two runs. Blake Bannon had a hit and two RBI. The Rebels made two errors.

Devin Scott tossed 5.1 innings, allowed eight runs (three earned) and struck out seven. On April 4, Thomas Heyward lost 1-0 at Colleton Prep. Padgett and Bannon each had two hits. Bannon pitched 6.2 innings, allowed two hits, a run and struck out 10.

Shuford said questionable calls by the umpires in the seventh inning contributed to Colleton Prep’s run, but “we didn’t do anything to score runs.”

Said Bannon: “The Colleton Prep game was one we needed; losing to them 1-0 was pretty hard, but our team put in the effort.”

(Editor's note: THA lost 11-8 at Dorchester Academy last Friday. The Rebels trailed 9-3 and cut it to 9-8 in the sixth.) Thomas Heyward has been victimized by some bad luck — balls just sneaking through the infield, bloopers falling in — and Shuford hopes when Thomas Heyward returns to the field some of the luck will turn in its favor.

“Hope the ball bounces our way,” he said.

The Rebels have four games left, each at home, to make a push for a spot in SCISA’s Class AA state playoffs. They host Hilton Head Prep on April 18; Colleton Prep on April 20; Dorchester on April 24; and St. Andrew’s on April 27.

The break will help THA rest its pitchers, which this season have included almost the entire team.

Shuford has used 10 pitchers, likely the most he’s ever used because of SCISA’s first-year pitch-count rule. Under the new guidelines, there’s been a 105-pitch limit for varsity games and days of rest have been required after reaching certain pitch counts, including three days’ rest for throwing 61-75 pitches and four days for throwing 76-90 pitches.

Bannon leads the team with 24.2 innings pitched, followed by Scott (16 IP), Bond (15) and Louie Smith (12.1). Six other Rebels have each tossed less than seven innings. Bannon’s had two starts, compared with six last season.

Shuford said he doesn’t think the rule was necessary, and he’s thinking of adjusting his schedule next season to include weeks of Monday and Friday games, instead of three games, to minimize scrutinizing pitch counts. He said Region 4-AA coaches have discussed playing a two-game series against each other during the week to help provide balanced competition.

“We might play Hilton Head Prep, Hilton Head Christian and Colleton Prep in the same week, where Hilton Head Christian might have us and then non-region games, so they can save their ace for us,” Shuford said. “With (the proposed plan) you can have your ace in one game and your No. 2 in the other. It’s something we are talking about.”

Bannon continues to lead THA. He’s batting .630 (29 for 46) with eight doubles, 18 steals and a .891 SLG. Bannon is also 0-2 with a 1.14 ERA.

He’s struck out 36 in 24.2 innings pitched.

Scott is second in batting average (.395) and slugging (.534). Bryce Tillotson is tied for the team lead with Bannon with 22 RBI.

As the Rebels get set for their return, Bannon has one thought in mind: “I hope we have a 4-0 run.”

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