Hayes caps Post 45 drama in late-night Southeast Regional win

Braylen Hayes had the final hit for Randolph County Post 45 in its extra-inning victory against Evans (Ga.) in the Southeast Regional. (File photo)

ASHEBORO – Braylen Hayes wanted the chance to end Thursday night’s game in the Southeast Regional.

The Randolph County Post 45 center fielder didn’t miss on that.

“It works at the end, that’s all that matters,” Hayes said. “I knew (it was the winning hit) because Blake (Marsh) can move pretty good. He’s going to score.”

Hayes belted a double off the wall in left field with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning, allowing Marsh to score from first base with the winning run in the 3-2 victory against Evans (Ga.) Post 192 in American Legion baseball at McCrary Park.

“He said (before going to the plate) that this game was over,” Post 45 manager Ronnie Pugh said of Hayes. “He didn’t say how.”

Randolph County (31-11) will meet Camden (S.C.) Post 17 at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the winners’ bracket. They’re the two remaining undefeated teams.

Until the game reached extra innings, it was another showcase for Post 45’s Tanner Marsh, who has hobbled around the field for two games and produced an alarming rate.

Hampered by an ailing left hamstring, he has come through at the plate and in the field.

“Sometimes you just have to push through,” Tanner Marsh said. “I’ll play all week.”

He drove in Randolph County’s first two runs and ended up as the winning pitcher with three innings of relief.

“He always steps up,” Pugh said. “You can’t get him out of the lineup. He told me today to throw away my eraser.”

Pugh adjusted the initial lineup configuration a bit, moving Tanner Marsh to third base rather than shortstop so any mobility issues would be less of a factor. Trey Way, an established shortstop who was the catcher Wednesday night, took the shortstop spot.

In the eighth, Blake Marsh reached on a one-out infield single. Then it was Hayes’ turn and he smacked his first hit of the regional for the most dramatic conclusion so far in the regional.

“Sometimes you have to win one like that,” Pugh said.

Hayes said it was his first walk-off hit in recent memory in this type of situation. During the past high school season, any walk-off hit for Randleman came in a mercy-rule situation.

Post 45 starting pitcher Blake Marsh made it through four innings. Just seconds after he dodged a bases-loaded jam to end the top of the fourth, umpires halted play for what became a 62-minute lightning delay.

Post 45 scored in the second inning when Hayes walked and later scored on Tanner Marsh’s sacrifice fly. Randolph County got its second run in the fourth, with a couple of misplayed fly balls resulting in the run.

Tyler Parks took over for Randolph County on the mound and yielded a fifth-inning run on Matthew Roa’s run-scoring double.

On the next batter, left fielder Adam Cole’s sliding catch of Chesney Lepard’s line drive toward the gap notched the second out and prevented the tying run from scoring.

Tanner Marsh went to the mound with two runners on base and no outs in the sixth. He worked out of the mess and the Post 45 lead stood at 2-1.

Evans put a runner on second with no outs in the seventh. Charlie Bussey came around from second base to score on a groundout. If he had been out at the plate, the game would have ended.

Tatum Marsh had two of Post 45’s eight hits.

Thursday’s scores

Wilmington 9, Owensboro, Ky. 4 (Owensboro eliminated)

Rock Hill, S.C. 11, Columbia, Tenn. 3 (Columbia eliminated)

Camden, S.C. 9, Belleview, Fla. 7

Randolph County 3, Evans, Ga. 2, 8 innings

By Bob Sutton