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More offense + rain do not add up for P-17ers

Weather washes out a 7-1 KC lead in top of the fifth

Posted: June 2, 2012 1:15 p.m.
Updated: June 4, 2012 5:00 a.m.

What a bad time for the offense to get picked up again.
Playing a game of chicken with the weather Friday night, Kershaw County Post 17 needed a quick bottom of the fourth and an even quicker top of the fifth to make its home opener against Orangeburg an official game. Instead, the locals’ 7-1 lead was washed away by the torrential rains which hit the area to open the fifth inning.
Since the game did not go the necessary four and one-half innings -- Post 4 had the leadoff man on with no outs with a full count on the second batter when the umpires halted play -- and since weather was the reason why the contest was stopped, the game must be started over. The projected make-up date will be Saturday, June 23 at a yet-to-be-determined time.
Friday marked the second time in four nights in which a KC game had been affected by the weather. Tuesday’s scheduled home and season opener never got off the ground due to rain. One night later, Craig Smith’s troops fell to Lexington in the Region IV lid lifter, 13-3, on a night in which the 17ers were held to four hits and went down on strikes 16 times in an eight-inning affair.
Offense was not the problem on Friday as the hosts banged out seven hits in four frames. Combine that with what was turning to be a gem of a mound effort from Grayson King and the storm could not have cropped up at a worse time for the hosts.
“It was very frustrating,” a drenched Smith said as to coming so close to getting this game in. “Right now, we’re kind of snake-bit with the weather.
“We had a very good practice (Thursday.) We came out and swung the bats well ... everybody was hitting the ball. And, then, we came out swinging the bats well tonight.”
KC came out swinging from the start after King -- who threw 50 pitches in an abbreviated stint -- set the guests down in order in the top of the first.
Blake Outlaw would get P-17 going by driving a Hobie Dennis fastball for a double to the gap in left center on the first pitch of the bottom of the first. After moving to third on a Cody Mailly bunt, King helped himself by driving Outlaw home with a two-out single to center. Gunner Smith followed with a walk while a wild pitch moved King and Smith into scoring position. The pair came home when Darius Smith sent a two-run single into right field for a 3-1 lead.
The hosts would use a double play ball on a grounder to Mailly at second to get back to the plate against Dennis.
Russ Radcliff worked his way for a one-out walk and stole second to kick-start the home half of the second. After Outlaw got aboard on a free pass, Smith called for a double steal which was successfully pulled off. At the time, it gave KC 10 stolen bases in 10 innings. Mailly then doubled to left center to drive in runs four and five. Dennis would be lifted in favor of Jesse Conder after walking Kal Davis. Conder was promptly greeted by another RBI single off the bat of King to hike the lead to 6-0 as threatening clouds loomed to the west.
“I was pleased with our hitting tonight and I’m pleased with our base running,” Smith said of his team’s offense.”We created opportunities for ourselve. Our guys swung the bats a lot better tonight than we did against Lexington.”
Orangeburg, the defending League IV champion, hit the board for the first time in the bottom of the third when Dakota Way hit a two-out single to drive in Evan Graves, who had a leadoff single. Those accounted for the lone two hits King would allow on a night in which he fanned three batters.
“Grayson threw 50 pitches in four innings. He’s hitting the (strike) zone,” Smith said of his right-hander, who also hit three batters with pitches.
With rain but minutes away, KC tacked on a seventh run in the bottom of the third as Hunter McManus got on with a two-out walk and scored from first when Radcliff unloaded on a pitch which bounced off the fence in left center for an RBI double.
Needing to get in an inning and a half to make this an official game, Orangeburg went down quietly in the fourth as King and his teammates picked up the pace.
In the bottom of the fourth, singles by Mailly and Gunner Smith and a two-out walk to Smith loaded the bases. In between, a trip to the mound by the Post 4 head coach stalled things. Smith then called for Mailly to try to steal home as he was never looked back to third by Conder. Mailly was tagged out at the plate for the final out in what, at the time, looked to be a blessing in disguise as it allowed a few more minutes as the rain started.
Later, Smith said calling for Mailly to steal home was not done in an effort to try and get the game in as much as it was a legitimate try for another run as Conder all but neglected to look the runner back to third base.
As it turned out, that play would have no effect on this game being called.
King hit Graves to lead off the top of the fifth as the rain came down in sheets. While it appeared as if the umpires were doing their best to try and get the game in, when conditions worsened during Cameron Huddleston’s at-bat, the call was given to both sides to head for the dugouts. When the rain finally ceased, the field was still unplayable as the game was stopped, three outs short of it counting.
“It was good to be home,” Smith said of his young squad being a little looser for their second game of the season. “I know that our Legion guys really wanted to come out and see us play.
“It was nice to come out and put three on the board in the first inning. That seems to be a characteristic that this team has developed through the pre-season and into league play; they come out and score early and play good defense. Mailly made a heck of a play on that double play ball in the second for us.”
While Tuesday’s rained out game with Lexington appears headed for an early July date in the final week of the regular season, moving Friday’s contest to June 23 will give KC its only four-game week. While crossing his fingers that weather does not become a factor again, Smith said he is not overly concerned about the games starting to back up.
“We’ve come out of a 30-year period when we were in League III and played four games in a week, every week,” he said. “The three games in a week deal (in League IV) gives us an option where, if we have to squeeze a fourth game in week, we can do it.
“We, as a coaching staff, are used to (having four-game weeks.) The kids aren’t quite used to it, but it’s not a Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday grind. At least, when we play Orangeburg (on June 23), it will be a Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday deal for us.”
 
Keeping POSTed: Offensively for the 17ers, Mailly had a double and a single with two RBI while King drove home a pair of runs with two singles. Radliff had an RBI double  ... Smith had several bags of “turface” in his truck and was ready to try and get the field into playable condition, but the downpour left large puddles of standing water in both the infield and outfield at American Legion Park ... KC players went from being baseball players to grounds crew members when the rains halted play as they placed tarps on the home plate area and the pitching mound. Holding down the large sheets of plastic coverings were metal folding chairs, plastic seats and one used tire, leading Post 17 pitching coach Jeremy Ray to quip, “It looks like American Pickers out there.” Alluding to the cable TV show of the same name where people go buying items from tag sale to tag sale ... KC travels to meet Orangeburg tonight in a 7:30 p.m. start. The locals will be home on Tuesday and Thursday nights when Dalzell-Shaw and West Columbia, respectively, come to American Legion Park in Camden for 7 p.m. games.

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