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Serpas' monster day --- 8 RBI --- lifts L-E past Irmo

Posted: March 11, 2014 1:56 p.m.
Updated: March 12, 2014 5:00 a.m.

Blake Serpas is one of those low-maintenance players who quietly does their work each day while the coaching staff hardly notices that he was there at practice.
The Lugoff-Elgin junior made plenty of noise on Sunday, however.
Serpas went 5-for-5 at the plate, with a pair of singles, two doubles and a three-run home run while driving in half of the Demons’ runs in a 16-6 win over host Irmo in the final day of the Carolina Ale House Classic.
Brought up to the varsity team in the second half of the 2013 season, Serpas never missed a beat in continuing his torrid hitting from the junior varsity. He stayed hot in the playoffs and then, for the Kershaw County Post 17 American Legion team in the summer. But he never had a day like he did on Sunday.
“I’ve seen a lot of Lugoff-Elgin baseball games,” said Demons’ skipper Randy Stokes of Serpas’ eight RBI afternoon, “but I’ve never seen a hitter have a day like Blake did on Sunday.”
Serpas finished the three-game tourney by going 7-for-12 at the plate while being L-E’s representative on the all-tournament team.
“It’s a tribute to Blake,” Stokes said of Serpas’ monster day and post-tourney honor. “He’s a kid who works so hard in the off-season to make himself a better player and he has done that. He’s the kind of player that you like to coach. In practice, you don’t even know he’s there because he’s so quiet. He just goes about his business.’
Business was good for Serpas and the Demons on Sunday as they picked up their first win in three outings in a game in which the Yellow Jackets answered a one-run top of the second with five runs in the home portion of the frame in which L-E senior mound ace Zac Bowers was brought in to stop the bleeding with two gone.
In the top of the second, the Demons used a double from Serpas and then an RBI two-bagger from Danny Bowen to score the game’s first run.
Trailing by four runs in the third, L-E would even things at 5-5. Cody Mailly’s leadoff single was followed by Russ Radcliff’s run-scoring double. Gunner Smith and Serpas drove in a run each with singles with Serpas knotting things when he scored on a throwing error.
The guests hung up a five spot in the third to make it a 10-5 game.
Hunter McManus opened the frame with a leadoff single and was bunted over to second by Mailly. A Bradwin Salmond walk was followed by a Radcliff --- who went 4-for-5 on the day with three RBI --- double, which plated McManus. After Smith singled, Serpas doubled home two runs. Gage Branham, who collected two of the Demons’ 18 hits in this one, then singled home two runs on a liner to right field.
Radcliff scored the 11th run in the sixth when he singled and later scored on Smith’s sac fly to center.
The Demons tacked on five more in the seventh with freshman catcher Chase Galloway reaching on a walk before being lifted for courtesy runner Shon Belton who stole second, went to third on a wild pitch and scored when Mailly’s grounder was booted for an error. Mailly took second on a wild pitch, swiped third and scored on another wild pitch. Radcliff kept the inning going with a single. Smith was then hit by a pitch before Serpas launched a three-run blast to left field.
Freshman Elliott Campbell drew the starting assignment before being relieved by Bowers in the second. The Erskine College signee worked 3.1 innings of scoreless relief, giving up three hits while fanning six batters to get the win. Sophomore Brock Robinson went the final two frames.
Bowers was scheduled to work out of the bullpen on Sunday. Stokes wanted his ace to close this one, but decided to change that when Irmo jumped to a quick lead. The L-E boss said Bowers needed to come in earlier than planned to give his team a much-needed boost … not to mention help get a victory.
“This was big for our confidence,” Stokes said following the 10-run win. “We had some heart-to-heart meetings with our kids last week. We went inside the gym for a couple days when it rained and we challenged our kids, not punishing them, each of those days. We challenged them to get focused and we taught them how to battle through adversity.
“We were not playing bad baseball, but we were missing that toughness that you need to battle adversity when it comes your way.”
L-E fell to 0-2 in the Carolina Ale House Classic following a 2-1 loss to visiting Ridge View last Tuesday night at Optimist Field. The guests scored the winning run on a wild pitch with two outs in the top of the eighth inning.
The Demons evened things at 1-1 with a run in the bottom of the fifth as Bowen singled, was bunted to second by McManus before Belton (who was running for Bowen) scored on a Mailly single.
“We hit too many fly balls in this game,” Stokes said of a contest played in cold and windy conditions. “We didn’t make adjustments, like hitting the top half of the ball, at the plate. Defensively, we played well enough to win.”
Salmond, an eighth-grader had two of the Demons’ five hits on the night.
Seth Nelson got the start for L-E and the senior right-hander went the first five innings, allowing four hits with a strikeout and a walk before giving way to Robinson in the sixth.
“Seth pitched a good game for us,” Stokes said of Nelson’s mound stint. “He throws strikes and keeps the ball down in the zone. He’s going to get some opportunities to pitch for us this year.”
L-E hosts Chapin tonight in a 6 p.m. non-region game.

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