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Dutch Fork goes long to outlast Demons in 10, 8-5

Posted: March 2, 2011 2:11 p.m.
Updated: March 4, 2011 5:00 a.m.

It does not take much to help baseballs fly beyond the fence at Dutch Fork High School’s field. When Monday evening’s winds rolled into town, it turned the facility into a launching pad.

The host Silver Foxes used three home runs as part of a five-hit “attack” to upend Lugoff-Elgin, 8-5, in 10 innings in a second round Carolina Ale House pre-season tournament contest which was completed Tuesday due to Monday evening’s rainstorm.

“The ball jumps out of Dutch Fork,” said L-E head coach Randy Stokes, whose team will complete play in the event Saturday at Irmo High School at a yet-to-be-determined time and versus a yet-to-be determined opponent.

“I thought that we played well enough to win this game. The three young guys we threw at Dutch Fork did well; they only allowed five hits.”

When the two sides reconvened on Tuesday, the score was knotted at 4-4 after four frames. The Silver Foxes scored an unearned run in the bottom of the sixth to go on top, 5-4. L-E answered in the seventh when Chance Rabon drew a bases-loaded walk to plate Dillon Grigsby with the tying run.

After squandering possible scoring chances in the eighth and ninth, the Demons were victimized by a three-run, two-out DF home run in the bottom of the 10th. “We had some opportunities to win this game, but we just couldn’t get the clutch hit when we needed one,” Stokes said.

The reason for L-E’s inability to come through with what could have  been a game-winning base hit could best be attributed to the cozy dimension of Dutch Fork’s home field.

“After this one was over,” Stokes said, “I told our guys that we changed our approach at the plate late in the game. We had guys going up there trying to end it with one swing of the bat instead of taking the same approach which we used early in the game. We were trying to elevate everything.

“We’re not going to be a team that is going to hit 40 home runs, like we did last year. The reason we had that many was because (Forrest) Koumas had 18 of those. We have to go up there and have quality at-bats. We need to hit behind the runner, move runners around and use our speed on the bases. We have to be able to go out and do the little things with this team because we are not going to hit the ball out of the park like we did last season.”

The Demons took a 1-0 lead in the first when leadoff man Jacob Murphy drew a walk and later scored on Chase Duncan’s double to right. The Silver Foxes trumped that by scoring four times in the bottom of the first, using a pair of two-run shots to take a 4-1 advantage.

L-E trimmed the deficit to 4-3 in the second as Murphy launched the first home run of his career as the senior went deep to left center for a solo shot. Josh Ruiz then reached on a walk, took second on an errant pickoff attempt before scoring on a Devin Walker single.

The guests evened the count at 4-4 in the fourth as Murphy got on by an error, stole second and came home from there on a Ruiz single to right.

Sophomore lefty Taylor Lunsford went the first four frames for L-E, allowing three hits while fanning five and not walking a batter. Freshman Zach Bowers, the winning pitcher in relief against Airport on Saturday, went four innings before being lifted due to his reaching a 60-pitch limit. He allowed one hit while both striking out and walking three batters. Junior Ryan Hinson came on in the ninth and suffered the tough-luck loss, allowing one hit in his stint.

Offensively, Walker and Duncan had a single and a double each while eighth-grade third baseman Gunner Smith had a pair of singles to give him four hits in eight at-bats in the tourney.

“This was a big-time learning experience for us,” Stokes said following the defeat. “We have a lot of kids on this team who did not have varsity playing experience before this year. This was a learning lesson for them.”

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