By: Andy Hallett – May 31, 2013
Going into the season, we had high expectations, and spoke at length about defending our AAA title. The season started with us ranked number three in the SCBCA preseason poll. Coming off the AAA State Title, we were a little disappointed that we did not start the season as the number one ranked team, however, we used this as motivation for our team as we got on the bus to the prestigious International Paper Classic to start the season.
AC Flora Falcons 2013: “Defend the Title”… 6 Championships… 1 Season
We arrived in Georgetown knowing we would play Georgetown, and the second and sixth ranked teams in the AAA pre-season poll. The opening game had us throwing our first pitch of the season at 11:05 p.m. with the temperature a robust 34 degrees. We eventually lost the opener 5-3 to Greenville but bounced back and defeated both Georgetown and St. James to finish our pool 2-1. With some help from St. James, we advanced to the IP championship game for the second consecutive season. This year matched up against AAAA Conway to decide the title. Our team took advantage and never relinquished the lead and picked up a 6-5 title clinching victory.This was AC Flora’s first IP Classic Championship.
Championship 2- Forest Acres Classic
Inside our regular season schedule we hosted the ninth annual Forest Acres Classic. With wins against White Knoll and Sumter plus a rainout verses Riverside, we advanced to the championship game verses Westminster out of Miami, Florida. Our bats came alive and we picked up an 11-6 victory and secured our third Forest Acres Classic championship.
Championship 3- Region IV Champs
In Region play, we stumbled right out of the gate and dropped a 12-9 game to rival Chapin at home upon our return from Georgetown. However, we would run off a nine game region winning streak and secure our twelfth region title in sixteen years.
To complete our season, our non-conference schedule had us playing the AAAA tradition-rich baseball schools: Mauldin (split 1-1), White Knoll (1-1) and Lexington (1-1). Outside Mauldin (played DH @ Mauldin); we would defeat all our non-region opponents at Falcon Field and drop all three road games. Our season ended with an 18-5 record.
Championship 4- District II Champs
The playoffs started at Falcon Field and we defeated Blue Ridge and Chapman to advance to the District Championship. The district title game was a battle with Emerald for 14 hard fought innings of baseball. They picked up a victory in Game One and force the decisive Game Two. Matt Wallace began to show his dominance throughout the playoffs, as he threw a three-hit shutout and advanced AC Flora to the Upper State Finals. The win marked our eleventh District Championship during my tenure.Overall Record: 21-6
Championship 5- Upper State Champs
Back to the Upper State bracket, which we haven’t seen since 2008, had us matched against a familiar foe in the Eastside Eagles. The predetermined bracket had us getting on the bus and heading north. The only problem was Mother Nature was in a bad mood, causing our game to be postponed a day due to rain. When we did get to Eastside, we picked up a 6-3 victory and headed back to the comfy confines of Falcon Field. The rain caused more delays in the upstate and gave us a day off. Travelers Rest defeated Greenville and came to Falcon Field for the first time since the title series in 2001. The drama was intense at Falcon Field as Donald Gillespie (left) hit a three-run walk off home run in the bottom of the seventh to secure a come-from-behind 6-5 victory. Eastside battled back out of the loser’s bracket and come to Falcon Field for the Upper State Championship final.Once again, Gillespie was the hero, as he doubled off the wall in the bottom of the sixth to give us our first lead of the night at 4-3. Wallace finished the game and advanced us to our sixth State Title series in twelve years. Overall Record: 24-6
Championship 6- State Championship: Sixth time in AAA title series since 2001!
FALCON FIELD played host to Game One of the finals against former region opponent, Airport. Mother Nature was a big player in our series and she tempted fate on many occasions. We were able to play on schedule in the opener as the Eagles came across town. What followed is a storybook ending that is hard to believe if you were not present.Down 9-1 heading into the bottom of the sixth, the Falcons mounted their comeback after the first out was recorded. AC Flora scored four runs in the bottom half of the inning to close the gap to 9-5. After a 1-2-3 top of the seventh, our offense was once again clicking. A blooper and back-to-back home runs had us within a run. A walk, two stolen bases and a bleeder and the score was tied. If not for a great throw from the leftfielder, we would have came all the back and won in walk-off fashion. The game continued all the way to the bottom of the thirteenth, tied at 9. With two outs and runner on second, we ended the game on a walk-off single, followed by an error on the play that allowed the runner to score from second.
The come-from-behind victory is one I will never forget and what a proud day for the Falcon Faithful that stuck it out when it looked bleak.
Game 2, scheduled to be played at Airport was washed out (Hallett right) and moved back two days. The rest was just what the doctor ordered as we had two key players banged up and our number one guy needing days to rest. The game saw our offense click all night as we scored eleven runs on nine hits while holding Airport to three runs on seven hits. With the scoreboard reading the fifth inning, I knew it was time for Wallace to finish his career out on the mound. He faced the minimum and when the final out was recorded, the “dog pile” on the mound was the one we have waited for all season and our back-to-back championships were secure! This marked AC Flora’s sixth championship of the year and it was the fourth State Championship in school history. Final Record: 26-6
All-Region Performers: Jake Lewis, Schroder Carlton, Everett Eynon and Matt Wallace
Player of The Year: Madison Stokes (left)
Coach of the Year: Andy Hallett
AAA All-State Performers: Jake Lewis, Matt Wallace and Madison Stokes
Special thanks to our parents, student body, senior class and the Falcon Faithful for supporting us all season… It wouldn’t have been the same without you!
Also, congratulations to Coach Casey Waites who accepted the head coaching position at Dutch Fork HS. Thanks for the ten great years, and your contributions and dedication to the program will never be forgotten. Best wishes and good luck.