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Bowers shuts Vikings down and out

Posted: March 20, 2014 9:02 a.m.
Updated: March 21, 2014 5:00 a.m.

Over the years, Spring Valley has been a thorn in the side of the Lugoff-Elgin baseball team.
All too many times, recently, the Vikings have seemed to come up with a big hit or make a key play in order to down the Demons. Tuesday night, Zac Bowers took matters into his own hands.
Bowers, a senior right-hander, was coming off a sub-par performance in a non-conference loss to Chapin. There was nothing sub-anything about Bowers on a cold night in northeast Columbia as he froze the Vikings’ bats on a three-hit, 10-strikeout shutout as the Demons kicked off Region 4-4A play with a 3-0 win.
In his complete game effort, the Erskine signee faced 24 batters, getting ahead in the count 21 times. L-E head coach Randy Stokes talked about a conversation the two had on the bus trip back home.
“Zac said to me, ‘I had to redeem myself, coach,’” Stokes said. “I think he went out there and put everything on his shoulders and wanted to redeem himself after a not-so-good outing against Chapin.
“Zac looked like he was in mid-summer form in this game.”
The Demon offense gave Bowers all the run support he would need by scoring two runs in the second inning. Gunner Smith got things going with a single. Blake Serpas was then hit by a pitch before Mikey Branham bunted the pair into scoring position with the first of four sacrifice bunts which the guests successfully laid down. Brock Robinson did the rest as he lined a two-run, two RBI hit over the head of the SV first baseman to give the guests a two-run lead.
An inning later, Cody Mailly rapped a leadoff single and moved to second on Bradwin Salmond’s sacrifice bunt. Smith plated Mailly with a run-scoring single to up the ante to three runs on a night in which Stokes said his team knew what was at stake.
“We had a lot of emotion and momentum going through us,” Stokes said. “We always talk to our pitchers about the importance of throwing strikes and keeping everybody involved in the game. We were able to do that (on Tuesday) night.”
The Demons had seven hits in the game, all singles, with Mailly and Smith having two each.
Given that this was the conference opener against a team which seemed to have the Demons’ number in the past, to come away with the victory was exactly what Stokes said his team needed.
“This was a big win for us,” said the L-E head coach. “We talked to our kids about the importance of the 10 region games we play and how they set us up for the playoffs.
“We haven’t had much success against Spring Valley over the years and a win was not only huge for us to be 1-0 in region play, but also for the confidence of all our kids.”

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