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Lunsford pitches Demons past Cavaliers, 6-2

Posted: February 26, 2013 11:19 a.m.
Updated: February 27, 2013 5:00 a.m.

Last spring, an injury to his left (throwing) forearm caused Taylor Lunsford to miss the better part of the final month of the Lugoff-Elgin baseball season as well as an entire summer of baseball.
In trying to get his team’s senior starting pitcher back into the swing of things, Demons’ head coach Randy Stokes outlined a plan in which Lunsford started throwing in December, more than a month before the rest of the L-E pitching staff got into gear.
The Demons unveiled the 2013 edition of Lunsford on Monday night in their weather-delayed first round game of the Carolina Ale House Classic and the lefty worked 4.2 innings of four-hit ball in a 6-2 L-E victory.
Stokes admitted that both he and his pitching coach, Jeremy Ray, made Lunsford the focus of their attention on Monday.
“We were real cautious with him,” Stokes said. “We kept Taylor on a tight pitch count which we set between a 75- to 80-pitch limit. I think he threw 78 to 79 pitches before we went out and got him.”
Lunsford allowed an unearned run in both the fourth and fifth frames, after the guests jumped to a 6-0 lead. He struck out eight batters, did not surrender a walk while none of the four RNE hits on the night left the infield.
Count Stokes as being satisfied with what he saw from Lunsford whom, his coach said, was not holding anything back in his season debut.
“Taylor was at game-speed,” Stokes said. “He’s been throwing a little longer than most of our guys this off-season. He is in good shape. We just kept an eye out on him because we didn’t want him to get tired and, he didn’t.”
Junior Zack Bowers came in relief of Lunsford with two gone in the bottom of the fifth and finished out the game. The right-hander did not allow a hit while fanning two and walking a batter en route to earning the save.
Offensively, the Demons did all their damage in the first four frames and scored a pair of runs in each of the first two innings.
Sophomore Russ Radcliff led off the game and the season with a walk. Fellow sophomore Cody Mailly then followed suit before Gunner Smith, another sophomore, reached on an error to load the bases with no outs. Austin Hayes would come through with a two-run single to right for a 2-0 lead.
The Demons played long ball in the second as sophomore Ethan Beasley singled to right before senior Deion Gridion launched a two-run blast over the fence in right center to make it a 4-0 game.
Hayes, a senior who went 2-for-4 at the plate, rapped a leadoff double to open the third and later scored on an RBI ground out off the bat of freshman Brock Robinson. L-E closed its scoring in the fourth when Gridion was hit by a pitch and later scored when the Cavaliers’ third baseman fielded Smith’s one-hopper to third and got Mailly in a rundown. While that was going on, Gridion came home with the night’s sixth run.
Hayes and Mailly both had two-hit nights for the winners with Mailly swiping a pair of bases.
Following a scrimmage season in which the Demons struggled at the plate, at times, Stokes said he liked what he saw from his offense in the first game of the pre-season tourney.
“I was pleasantly surprised,” he said of his team’s six-hit attack. “We really hadn’t hit the ball very well in our scrimmages. We wanted to put the ball in play and make people play defense; we did that in this game. We only struck out once and, I was very proud of that. We also did a much better job with our pitch selection.”
Rain forces changes for Demons: L-E’s scheduled first round game against Aiken in the Carolina Ale House Classic was postponed due to the rain on Saturday. That contest will be made up tonight when Stokes and company travel to Aiken High School for a 6:30 p.m. start on Friday. Bowers is expected to get the starting nod.
L-E opens its home season on Thursday when Airport comes to Optimist Field for a 6 p.m. game. No starter has been announced for that contest. The final round of the Carolina Ale House Classic will be played on Saturday at Irmo High School with pairings and starting times to be determined by standings after pool play.
Weather wreaks havoc on CHS and NC games: The weather forced the postponement of Camden and North Central’s pre-season baseball contests.
Camden was to have played Trinity-Byrnes on Saturday and Hartsville on Monday in the Pee Dee Invitational Pre-Season Baseball Tournament. Both those contests fell victim to the weather.
On Tuesday, Camden High head coach Denny Beckley was informed by tournament officials that the tournament format has been tweaked in order that all eight competing teams will be able to get three games in.
On Thursday, Camden will meet Trinity-Byrnes in a 5 p.m. start at Kellytown Field. Friday at 5 p.m., the Bulldogs will play McBee, also at Kellytown at 5 p.m.
The finale for the Dogs will be a Saturday noon game with tourney host Hartsville. That game will also be played in Kellytown.
The seventh, fifth, third and championship games, which were scheduled for Thursday night and Saturday afternoon have been scrapped in order to allow teams to get in a trio of games.
The inclement weather and a scheduling problem with one of the competing teams in the May Plant Credit Union Baseball Bash at North Central wiped out last Saturday’s scheduled tripleheader in Boonetown as well as Monday night’s scheduled game.
NC head coach and tournament director Robbie Cash was hopeful of getting Tuesday’s doubleheader in and completing the event, as scheduled, on Thursday.
Tonight, the MPCU Baseball Bash tourney is slated to have North Central facing Westwood in a doubleheader beginning at 5:30 p.m.
Thursday’s scheduled twinbill will have Westwood taking on the Camden Military Academy in a 5:30 p.m. start with CMA and North Central meeting in the tournament finale at 7:30 p.m.

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