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Four-run sixth helps Dogs get past Bruins

Posted: April 15, 2014 1:25 p.m.
Updated: April 16, 2014 5:00 a.m.

Chalk it up to the wooden bats. Better yet, give the credit to the two pitchers.
Through five and one half innings of Monday’s Kershaw-Richland Wooden Bat Classic, host Camden held a 1-0 lead over South Florence with the CHS lead coming in spite of its getting one hit off Bruin starter Patrick Lovelace.
Across the way, Bulldog starter Will Abbott was working on a mound gem of his own. It would be the Camden sophomore, however, who received four runs in the bottom of the sixth as the hosts got past their 4A visitors, 5-2.
In a game which clipped along, with the first five-plus frames taking less than an hour to complete, SF out-hit the Dogs, 7-5, and its two pitchers had more strikeouts, 5-3. Where the guests came up short was in taking advantage of scoring chances in the first five frames, each of which saw the Bruins get the leadoff man aboard.
Even though his team came out on the long end of the decision, CHS head coach Denny Beckley was left scratching his head as to how the Dogs got the win.
“They had guys on base all night and we only had one through the first four innings and we were up 1-0. It was strange,” he said. “It was a weird game.”
Camden carried a tenuous 1-0 lead into the bottom of the sixth after the tourney hosts scored a run in the first as Darius Smith drew a leadoff walk, took second on a wild pitch and scored from third on a Lawson Stokes sacrifice fly to right.
For the next five frames, the Dogs played a game of dodge ball as the Bruins kept things hopping on the bases. SF stranded five on base --- with three of those on second --- in the first four frames as Abbott and the CHS defense thwarted possible scoring opportunities.
The biggest threat to the Dogs’ one-run lead came in the top of the fifth as Nick Jones hit a nubber off home plate which he legged out for a leadoff single. Taking second on a wild pitch and third on a ground out, Jones was on third with one gone and with William Long at the plate. Long hit a chopper to Devin Beckley at third base. Jones broke for the plate before stopping as Beckley proceeded to start a rundown which ended with shortstop Cole Irick tracking Jones down and tagging him for the second out while Long went to second on the play.
Abbott kept his shutout intact by getting Steven Calcutt to ground out to Tyler Jordan at second base.
After working an uneventful top of the sixth, Abbott received the run support he needed when Camden finally got to Lovelace, whose lone hit allowed was Nick Tucker’s two-out single in the fourth.
Smith got the Dogs going in the sixth by getting on with a one-out walk and, as he did in the first, advanced to second on a wild pitch. Irick’s bunt single put runners on the corners before Irick stole second to put runners on second and third for Stokes whose 1-2 single to left plated Smith. With two gone and CHS nursing a 2-0 lead, Ross Hough continued his tear at the plate by driving a two-run triple to the fence in left center to make it a 4-0 game. Hough came home on Austen Haney’s single to center.
When the sixth was all said and done, Camden had scored four times on as many hits.
Later, Denny Beckley talked about his offense and its finally getting something going against Lovelace, who was lifted after Haney’s single.
“I thought our (offensive) approaches were good throughout most of the game,” Beckley said. “(Lovelace) just did a good job of hitting his spots and we hit it right at people.
“He did a good job with his change-up. He didn’t slow his arm motion down … he was really deceptive with that pitch. He did a really good job. Luckily, our guys put together some good at-bats at the end.”
Having thrown 84 pitches in the first six innings, Abbott was sent back out for the seventh and was greeted by consecutive singles off the bats of Mitchell Green and Jones, who had three of the Bruins’ seven hits. Singles by Long and Lindsay Robinson drove in a run each for the guests who left runners on the corners as Abbott got Zaire Turner on a ground out to close the game.
Abbott, a 6-foot-3 right-hander, went the distance to pick up his third win in six decisions. As impressive as his numbers were, what Beckley liked best was seeing his second-year starter get tough when SF had men on base.
“What a strange outing,” he said. “Will was able to bear down and pitched a phenomenal game. It got a little hairy there at the end but I thought he did a good job. His pitch count was low and we decided to stick with him.
“When you have three more games this week, when you get through the first one using only one guy, that’s important.”
The Bulldog boss said he looks forward to this spring break event in which only wooden bats can be used. Not only was the game played at a quicker pace, but it helps a batter’s mechanics at the plate, Beckley said.
“If we had it in our budget,” Beckley said of using wooden bats, “we’d hit with them all the time in practice. I love this week. It helps you become more balanced and have a better approach at the plate. It might take us a game or two to get used to it but we’re pleased with a ‘W’ today.”

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