View Mobile Site

Hoke, King help 17ers snap skid

KC drubs Hartsville, 9-2, to improve to 9-4 in League III play

Posted: June 27, 2013 1:43 p.m.
Updated: June 28, 2013 5:00 a.m.

Did he even need to look to receive the green light?
With the way Grayson King has been swinging the bat for the Kershaw County American Legion team lately, he may have taken it for granted that he could take a shot at a 3-0 pitch. So, when the North Central grad saw what he liked on a 3-0 count, he knew exactly what he needed to do with a Datavius Wilson fastball.
Rather than extend the at-bat, King deposited a Wilson offering into the thick humid air and over the 375-foot sign at American Legion Park in helping the Post 17ers to a 9-2 win over visiting Hartsville on Wednesday. The romp all but secured second place for the locals, who banged out 14 hits to back the stellar mound efforts of starter Grey Hoke and Brock Robinson.
KC improved to 9-4 overall with three games left to be played in League III action while snapping a two-game skid in the process.
On a night in which it would take a man-sized poke to hit one out of the spacious ball yard, King proved to be more than up to the challenge. The blast capped a four-hit, three-RBI game for the Francis Marion signee.
“Grayson King may be the hottest hitter in the state, right now,” said KC head coach Craig Smith. “It doesn’t matter who’s throwing and who we’re seeing because Grayson has been on every pitcher he’s seen this summer. He’s swinging from the heels and he’s connecting.
“He’s hitting them hard and, he’s hitting them far.”
King’s homer plated the final two runs of the night and gave the hosts a 9-1 lead in the bottom of the sixth. That would be more than enough run support for a P-17 pitching staff which has settled into a nice rhythm.
Smith handed the ball to the 6-foot-1 Hoke and the left-hander worked 5.1 innings of three-hit ball while fanning nine to pick up his second straight win and improve to 2-1. Hoke ran into a bit of a problem in the top of the sixth as back-to-back walks and a hit batsmen allowed Hartsville to load the bases with one out.
That led to Robinson coming on in relief and four pitches later, he got Matt Lynch to ground into an inning-ending double play. The right-hander would close out the game and earn the save as Robinson threw 3.1 innings of two-hit ball while fanning four.
“That kid gets better every time he takes the mound for us,” Smith said of Hoke’s performance. “Grey struggled a little bit early and they got a couple quick hits off him, but he didn’t let that rattle him. He came back and filled the zone and let our guys play defense behind him
“He gave us one heck of a pitching performance tonight.”
Robinson’s performance in a relief role was another example of pitching coach Jeremy Ray’s mound staff getting the job done.
“We’re not afraid to run anyone on our pitching staff out there, right now, in any situation,” Smith said after his mound corps allowed two or fewer runs in a game for the fifth time this season.
“We’re getting great outings from every one of our pitchers. Our pitching staff is pounding the zone for us and, that’s what we need.”
Hoke missed the mark twice in the first inning, giving up a one-out single to Reese Pearson on a ball which leftfielder Austin Hayes nearly came up with as he slid to make the play. The next batter, Hayes Goodson, smacked a run-scoring double to left for the game’s first run and the only damage the visitors would do against Hoke who would give up just one more hit before handing the ball to Robinson.
KC knotted things at one with a run in the second off soft-throwing righty Maliki Mack as Gunner Smith led off with a single along the left field line and later scored on Hayes’ one-out sacrifice fly to left.
The 17ers would start timing Mack’s offerings in the third, plating four runs to take control of things.
Russ Radcliff kick-started the frame with a leadoff single to left before swiping second. Broderick Gaither then laid down a pretty bunt along the third base line which he legged out for a single. A throwing error to first by Mack, who fielded the ball, allowed Radcliff to score while Gaither landed on third. He made it 3-1 when he trotted home on Cody Mailly’s single to left.
Mailly advanced to third on King’s second single of the game to put runners on the corners for Smith whose grounder to third was played into an error as Mailly came home with the fourth run. King made it 5-1 when he touched home thanks to a Tyler Bowers sacrifice fly to left.
An inning later, KC tacked on two more runs with Radcliff opening the fourth with a walk which was followed by a Gaither walk,. Those at-bat would bring Wilson to the mound. Radcliff then scored on a wild pitch before King’s opposite field single to right drove in Gaither from third with the seventh run.
The 17ers ended with 14 hits on a day in which Smith brought his team to the field at 4 p.m. to work on the defense and hitting.
“We had our guys out here early today ... taking a lot of ground balls and a lot of extra swings. We did that to get our groove back,” said the second-year head coach. “We hadn’t lost back-to-back games all summer until we lost to Cheraw (last Friday) and Sumter (on Tuesday.) We felt like we needed to do something.
“We got our mindset back to where it needed to be. They just refocused and played well.”
The exclamation point on this night in which flashes of lighting never brought rain, came in the home half of the sixth when Gaither led off with a single. Two batters later, King took a big hack at a 3-0 fastball. Hartsville left fielder Marcus Spears took two steps to his left before looking up as the ball headed into the trees beyond the fence in left center.
Working with an eight-run cushion, Robinson pounded the strike zone and would only give up an unearned run in the eighth thanks to a two-out KC error, its lone miscue of the night in the field.
After having their share of struggles in the field the previous two games, Smith said his defense did what it needed to do on wednesday. A defensive highlight was provided by first baseman Gunner smith who would leave his feet and go to his left to take away a base hit from Gregory Pappas in the fourth. Smith flipped to Hoke for the bang-bang out at first base to complete the play.
“We challenged our guys on defense to get back to making the routine plays and, we did that tonight. We made the plays we had to make,” Craig Smith said. “That’s the kind of team that we are; we don’t have guys who are going to throw 95 miles an hour and shut everybody down. Teams are going to hit our pitching. We just need to be able to play defense behind them.”
The P-17 offensive onslaught was led by King. Seven other players contributed a hit on this night with Gaither and Lawson Stokes having two hits in a win which all but locked down second place in League III for the winners.
“It’s going to be tough for (third-place) Cheraw, which is 4-6, to run us down,” Smith said in looking at the standings behind once-beaten Sumter. “For that to hapen, (Cheraw) is going to have to win out and, we’re going to have to drop the ball over these last few ballgames.
“Hopefully, our kids will stay focused. We’re just taking it one game at a time.”

Keeping POSTed: The 17ers used Wednesday’s game to break out their throwback uniforms, wearing green mesh vests over black short-sleeved undershirts with white pants ... KC pitching coach Jeremy Ray missed the first two games of last week and used the days off to get engaged … According to an online message board, it looks as if should Post 17 finish in second place in League III, it would face Beaufort in the first round of the best-of-five state playoffs which begin Monday, July 8. It would appear that the KC vs. Beaufort series winner will be paired with defending state and 2012 American Legion World Series entry Florence and Lake City … Due to the paucity of teams in the Lower State, League III champion Sumter will meet the fourth place team from League III (Manning-Santee, Cheraw or Hartsville) in first round play … KC was scheduled to play a doubleheader with Cheraw on Thursday before closing the regular season at Sumter next Tuesday night.

Interested in viewing premium content?

A subscription is required before viewing this article and other premium content.

Already a registered member and have a subscription?

If you have already purchased a subscription, please log in to view the full article.

Are you registered, but do not have a subscription?

If you are a registed user and would like to purchase a subscription, log in to view a list of available subscriptions.

Interested in becoming a registered member and purchasing a subscription?

Join our community today by registering for a FREE account. Once you have registered for a FREE account, click SUBSCRIBE NOW to purchase access to premium content.

Membership Benefits

  • Instant access to creating Blogs, Photo Albums, and Event listings.
  • Email alerts with the latest news.
  • Access to commenting on articles.

Contents of this site are © Copyright 2014 Chronicle Independent All rights reserved. Privacy policy and Terms of service

Powered by
Morris Technology
Please wait ...