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Demons go 1-3 in Carolina Ale House Classic

Posted: March 5, 2013 10:16 a.m.
Updated: March 6, 2013 5:00 a.m.

Playing in a pair of extra inning games, Lugoff-Elgin got more than it bargained for in last week’s Carolina Ale House Classic baseball tournament.
The Demons ended their four-game run in the eight team event with a 1-3 record following Saturday afternoon’s 12-11 loss to Region 4-4A colleague, Irmo. That setback came on the heels of Friday’s 7-4 defeat in Aiken which came a night after a 2-1, eight-inning setback against Airport.
For L-E head coach Randy Stokes, the four games left him with as many, if not more, questions about his team than he had as they headed into the season.
“We’re looking for answers, right now,” Stokes said.
“We’re in a position where, when we make mistakes, we’re not able to overcome them. I don’t know whether it’s a matter of youth or toughness.”
Either way, Stokes said this will be a good week for the Demons to try and improve with three days off before opening the start of the regular season at Chapin on Thursday before Camden comes over to Optimist Field for Friday’s first of three games between the two cross-river rivals.
On Friday, in a make-up game, the Demons found themselves trailing Aiken, 3-0, after the first inning of play. L-E scored twice in the top of the third as Hunter McManus drew a leadoff walk which was followed by a Russ Radcliff single. Cody Mailly then walked to load the bases with no outs. McManus scored on a double play ground ball which Radcliff came in on an Austin Hayes two-out single.
Trailing 7-2 going into the sixth, L-E pushed a pair of runs across as Danny Bowen and pinch-hitter Jordan O’Cain rapped a pair of singles. McManus’ bases-loaded walk plated Bowen while a Radcliff sac fly to center drove in O’Cain with the game’s final run.
Radcliff and Hayes each had two-hit nights for the Demons in the loss.
Saturday, the Demons answered an Irmo run with three in the top of the third in which Brock Robinson and Bowen singled and trotted home on Radcliff’s three-run blast to left center for a 3-1 lead. The Yellow Jackets responded with a three-spot in their half of the third to go on top, 4-3.
L-E had its biggest inning of the tourney with a six-run fourth which opened with O’Cain getting a single and being replaced by courtesy runner Ken Patterson, who stole second before scoring on a Deion Gridion double. With one out and Gridion on third and Bowen --- who was hit by a pitch --- on second, McManus drilled a two-run single. Radcliff followed with a run-scoring double which was trailed by RBI singles off the bats of Mailly and Gunner Smith.
Leading 9-4, L-E saw Irmo score once in the fifth and five in the sixth after the Demons manufactured a run in the top of the sixth as Radcliff was hit by a pitch, stole second, took third on a passed ball and scored on an error on a Mailly grounder.
The guests went on top, 11-10, in the seventh when Gridion rapped his third double of the afternoon and scored on Bowen’s single. Irmo sent the game into extra innings with a run in the bottom of the seventh before closing this one with a run in the ninth.
The Demons collected 15 hits against Irmo pitching including Gridion’s three doubles. Radcliff, who was L-E’s most valuable player in the tourney, went 2-for-4 with a home run and four RBI. Bowen and Smith had two-hit games.
“We moved a lot of people around in the order for this game in order to get guys in the best position to help us, offensive-wise,” Stokes said. “We came out swinging the bats better in this game than we had been.”
Stokes sent out Taylor Lunsford to start the game and the senior lefty threw five innings before being lifted after a pre-game mandated 85 pitches. The L-E boss said had Lunsford been able to go longer, the outcome could have been different.
Stokes said his team needs to get tougher now that the games which count are less than a week away.
“We’re having a hard time putting two consistent innings together. I thought we would have already been past that at this time of the year,” he said of his team’s early struggles. “But it’s like I told our guys, if you’re going to lose, then now’s the time to do it.”
The Demons will kick off their regular season on Thursday when they pay a visit to Chapin in a 6:30 p.m. start.

L-E to honor 1993 AAA state championship team on Friday: Lugoff-Elgin will honor its 1992 AAA state championship baseball team prior to the start of Friday’s game with visiting Camden. The junior varsity game between the two sides kicks things off at 4:30 p.m.
Following an on-field ceremony, the varsity teams will play in a contest which, Stokes said, may have to be pushed back a few minutes from its scheduled 7 p.m. start.

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