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Black Thursday

Shutouts, errors lead KC contingent to go 0-6 in first round pairings

Posted: April 27, 2012 12:24 p.m.
Updated: April 30, 2012 5:00 a.m.

Hide the kids.
In six state tournament games, Kershaw County baseball and softball teams took the collar and were dropped into elimination games played either Friday night or Saturday afternoon.
The county’s three baseball teams were outscored by a combined 37-12 total on a Thursday night in which Camden, Lugoff-Elgin and North Central combined to make 22 errors.
On the softball diamond, the three county entries were outscored by a combined 22-0 count in three losses.
Lexington closes out Demons in five: Playing in a charged atmosphere in Lexington, Lugoff-Elgin lost in its first 4A state tournament contest, dropping a 13-3 decision to the host Wildcats.
Lexington came into the game ranked among the nation’s top 50 high school teams while holding down the top spot in the 4A state baseball coaches’ poll.
For the better part of five innings, the Demons hung with the Cats before the hosts scored nine times in the bottom of the fifth to close this one out by the 10-run rule.
The big story here, however, was not Lexington’s scoring 13 runs on 12 hits as much as it was L-E’s opening the door for the Wildcat offense by committing a season-high eight errors.
“We had enough hits (seven) in this game, but we made eight errors,” Stokes said following the loss. “When you make eight errors, you are not going to beat very many people.
“We played real hard, though. We played with those guys for five innings. Then, in the fifth, they got a couple of hits, a few walks and then, the wheels kind of fell off.”
Lexington got to L-E starter Zack Bowers for a pair in the bottom of the first. The Demons matched that by knotting things with a two-run top of the third.
Hunter McManus got the guests going with a double to right center in the third. After taking third on a wild pitch, McManus scored the first L-E run when he came in on a Devin Walker single. Walker would then steal second, move to third on a Gunner Smith single before tying this one up when Deion Gridion’s grounder to shortstop was thrown away to first base.
The Wildcats used solo runs in the third and fourth to pull head, 4-2.
L-E trimmed the deficit to 4-3 in the fifth as Cody Mailly singled to right and went to second on an error on the play. He would score on Gridion’s single to left.
With the Demons breathing down their collective neck, the Cats erupted for nine runs in the fifth in a half inning which left Stokes searching for answers as to what happened to his team.”
“It’s hard to understand how we could play so well for five innings and then, lose it so fast,” he said of the fateful fifth frame.
Lexington’s lofty position in state and national polls drew not only a huge crowd to the game, but plenty of television and newspaper cameras. Stokes said the “humungous” atmosphere at the field may have been a bit unnerving for his young squad.
“There were television cameras and photographers everywhere. This was a big-time playoff atmosphere with a lot of excitement,” he said of the surroundings on Thursday night.
“I think we grew up as a team, though, after having played in this game. After the game, I told our kids that this is what high school baseball is all about. Playing in an environment like this should only help our kids.”
Knights do in selves with errors: While L-E was committing eight errors in Lexington, a few miles down the road in North Augusta, North Central’s eight miscues in the field came back to haunt the visiting Knights in an 11-5 loss to host Fox Creek.
“I thought we hit the ball well and I thought (Fox Creek) hit the ball extremely well,” said NC head coach Robbie Cash following the loss. “But those eight errors killed us. Maybe it was a lack of focus on our part with that long bus ride to the game. But that is on me. I have to do a better job of making sure that we are focused and, that includes and starts with me.”
NC jumped to a quick 2-0 lead when starting pitcher Grayson King belted a two-run home run, his fifth of the season.
The mistakes started coming early as the Predators scored three times in the bottom of the first. NC, however, answered by scoring a pair in the second to take a 4-3 lead.
“I thought that we were OK after we gave up three runs in the first and came back to score two in the second to take the lead,” Cash said of his feelings after an inning and a half of play.
Things all changed in the bottom of the second as Fox Creek loaded the bases. Then, on an infield grounder, the throw to the plate missed the mark, allowing two runs to score. A throw back into the infield was also wild as four runs scored on two errors off an infield chopper.
“They scored four runs on that one play off a two-hopper,” Cash later said. “I could not believe that.”
Fox Creek added as pair in the third to go on top, 9-4. King, who started the game after the passing of a family member which kept him out of Friday’s elimination game at Blacksburg, was lifted after four innings. The loss was the fourth in 10 decisions for the junior right-hander.
“Grayson threw OK,” Cash said. “He deserved better than what he got. He should have been in the game with the way he was throwing and with the way we hit the ball.”
NC scored a run in the fifth while FC answered with two in its half of the game to close the scoring.
King had two of the Knights’ seven hits while driving in a pair with his home run. Anthony Spinelli had a double and a single and and RBI.
“We hit the ball well. We put the ball in play and did not strike out many times,” Cash said. “I thought Raijon Jones and J.P. Faulkenberry hit the ball well. And, in the sixth inning, Tyler Bowers crushed a ball which might have gone through their first baseman if he would not have got his glove up in time.”
KC softball contingent blanked in opening round contests: Following Lugoff-Elgin’s 6-0 loss to Region 6 champion Carolina Forest in Wednesday’s first round of the 4A state tournament, Camden and North Central also came up short in their tourney openers.
Camden fell to third-ranked and Region 5-AAA champion Chapin, 4-0, on Thursday. Earlier that night, North Central suffered a 13-0 loss to Region 4-A champion Fox Creek.

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