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L-E strands dozen runners in 4-2 loss to Rebels

Posted: March 4, 2014 11:06 a.m.
Updated: March 5, 2014 5:00 a.m.

Randy Stokes was fine with the 11 hits which his Lugoff-Elgin baseball team piled up in Saturday’s 4-2 loss to Mid-Carolina at River Bluff High School.
What bothered the Demons’ boss more, however, were the dozen runners that his offense left stranded in the opening round game of the Carolina Ale House Classic.
“You look at our line score,” Stokes said, “and you think that we would have won the game.
“The storyline was our missing opportunities to score run when we had guys on base. We did a good job of getting guys on and into scoring position, but we did not get enough hits in the clutch. One thing which I thought we did well in our pre-season games was getting guys in scoring position and then, getting them in.”
The Rebels, who were the designated home team in this game, scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth to collect the win. The state’s fourth-ranked AA pre-season entry needed a strikeout with Demons on second and third to close the game.
L-E opened the scoring with a run in the top of the second as junior Ethan Beasley reached on an error and scored when senior Mikey Branham belted a double to the spacious gap in right center.
M-C countered by scoring its lone run --- of the unearned variety --- of the afternoon against L-E starter Zac Bowers in the bottom of the second. The Demon senior right-hander worked five innings of two-hit, five strikeout baseball before handing the ball over to classmate Jake Brazell to open the sixth.
Bowers was lifted after reaching his 90th pitch, which Stokes and pitching coach Jeremy Ray set as the first start limit for the Erskine college signee.
“Zac was sharp,” Stokes said. “He pounded the zone all game and did a great job of getting ahead of their hitters while throwing his breaking ball for a strike. He did everything that we asked of him.”
The Demons broke the deadlock with a run in the top of the sixth with junior Gunner Smith lining a single to left before being replaced on first base by senior pinch-runner Shon Belton. Junior Blake Serpas then delivered a double to the gap in right center as Belton circled the bags for the go-ahead run.
Following the Rebels’ three-run bottom of the sixth, they came out unscathed in the seventh after the Demons had the go-ahead run at the plate.
Branham and Serpas were two of four Demons with two-hit afternoons. Senior Cody Mailly and Bradwin Salmond, an eighth-grader, also had a pair of singles for L-E which is scheduled to host River Bluff on Thursday in a 6 p.m. start at Optimist Field.
While unseasonable weather cancelled several pre-season practices for the Demons, their head coach said each team in the area was dealt a similar hand with the recent snow and ice. He said he liked the progress which his players had made in the off-season and pre-season.
“I told our guys that we were where we needed to be,” Stokes said. “We have a lot of returning guys on our team this year; we don’t have to teach a lot of guys what they have to do. We have a lot of guys who have been here before.
“I like our kids. We’re going to be fine and we’ll be in a lot of games if we play the way that I know how we can play.”
Weather forces change in schedule: Due to Monday’s rains, the Demons’ scheduled game at Ridge View in the Carolina Ale House Classic was pushed back one night. Since the host Blazers’ field was being used for a junior varsity tournament, the game was to have been played at L-E’s Optimist Field on Tuesday night.
The Demons are scheduled to host River Bluff on Thursday at 6 p.m. in third round play. Should weather postpone that contest, it will be played at Optimist Field at 6 p.m. on Friday.
The tournament ends on Saturday at Irmo High. The Demons’ opponent and starting time will be determined after the completion of third round play.

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