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Lady Demons hope to break out the brooms at Byrnes

Seven-run seventh leads to 9-2 victory over J.L. Mann and into 4A Upper State finals

Posted: May 12, 2016 3:18 p.m.
Updated: May 13, 2016 1:00 a.m.
Tom Didato/C-I photo/

DELANEY GUERRERO COLLECTED two hits in Lugoff-Elgin’s 9-2 win over J.L. Mann which put the Lady Demons into today’s 4A Upper State championship round at Byrnes.

GREENVILLE -- As long as you have to make a long trip, you might as well play and win two games.

That will be the mantra for the Lugoff-Elgin softball team which will travel to Byrnes today in the 4A Upper State championship round. The Lady Demons (29-3) earned a berth in the finale following Wednesday’s come-from-behind 9-2 elimination game win over J.L. Mann.

L-E, which dropped a 9-4 decision to Byrnes in Saturday’s Upper State opener, will have to defeat the Rebels twice in order to advance to the 4A state championship series which opens on Monday, May 16. The first of what James Marlow’s charges hopes will be a doubleheader in Duncan tonight is set for a 6 p.m. first pitch.

Before the Lady Demons could set their sights on their third trip to the upstate in six days, they had to get past a J.L. Mann squad which fell to Byrnes, 9-2, on Monday.

Coming off a dramatic 3-2 eighth-inning victory against Boiling Springs Monday night, the L-E players and coaches had to quickly regroup and prepare themselves for J.L. Man, which finished third in Region II behind Byrnes and Boiling Springs, respectively. Like L-E on Monday, the Patriots opened the 4A Upper State tournament on Saturday with a 2-1 extra-inning victory over Boiling Springs.  After dropping their second contest of the tournament on Monday night to Byrnes 11-5, J.L. Mann earned the right to host the Lady Demons.

The Lady Demons struck first with a run in the top of the first against Claire Griffith.  With one out, Delaney Guerrero reached on a line drive single to left field. Baleigh Lunsford came to the plate and hit a ground ball that was misplayed by J.L. Mann shortstop Ashlyn Alte to put runners at first and second base. Given the first scoring opportunity of the game, L-E took advantage with junior catcher Sophie Holland driving in Guerrero from second on a single to center field.  Still with only one out and runners at first and third, Griffith was able to limit the damage to just a run by getting the next two hitters on a strikeout and a ground out.  

The hostesses would push two runs across in the third to take a 2-1 lead.  

The Patriots’ ninth hitter, Mack Ellis, started the inning by being hit by a pitch. With a runner on first, lefty Meghan Majeski slapped a 1-2 pitch into right field for a single to put runners at first and second with no outs.  MacKenzie Haven followed by hitting a hard line drive just inside the left field line that rolled all the way to the wall for a triple which plated Ellis and Majeski, giving J.L. Mann a 2-1 advantage.  Alte was got aboard on a fielding error and took second uncontested on the next pitch.  

Still with one out and runners at second and third, Lunsford pitched out of trouble to keep the deficit at a run.  She struck out cleanup hitter Briana McRae before getting Helana Moore to hit a weak ground ball in front of home plate allowing Holland to throw her out at first base for the second out.  Finally, Lunsford was able to get Brooke Bimatteo to ground out to Erica Rawl at second to get out of the inning.

The Patriots maintained their 2-1 advantage until the top of the sixth inning.  

Guerrero got things started by reaching on a walk.  She was then sacrificed over to second base on a Lunsford bunt to put the tying run in scoring position with one out before Griffith got a strikeout strike out.  Just four outs away from elimination, L-E needed a hit to level things.  Like she had done previously in the District III Championship against Gaffney and Monday’s elimination game against Boiling Springs, leftfielder Bailey Douglas came through again by driving Griffith’s first pitch well over the head of Ellis in left field for a double which scored Guerrero from second to tie the game at two. 

With the go-ahead run in scoring position, Griffith was able to regroup and get out of the inning by getting an inning-ending strikeout.

After Lunsford retired the side in order in the bottom of the sixth, L-E had momentum at its back heading into the seventh inning of a tied game.  The Lady Demons took control of the game by scoring seven runs on five hits in the inning. 

Kaley Goerlich started the inning on a hard-hit single to left field. Taylor Sinay would then lay down a sacrifice bunt to put the go-ahead run into scoring position. L-E head coach James Marlow decided to have Erica Rawl bunt Goerlich over to third to give one of the team’s top hitters, Savannah Grigsby, a chance to drive in the go-ahead run.  On the first pitch of the at-bat, Rawl laid down a sacrifice bunt that appeared to be a routine play slowing down some five feet in front of home plate. Griffith, though, rushed the throw and overthrew first base, which allowed Goerlich to score the go-ahead run and gave Rawl the opportunity to advance to second on the play.

With her team leading, 3-2, Grigsby hit a ball that was misplayed by J.L. Mann’s second baseman to put runners on the corners. The Patriots allowed Grigsby to take second on the next pitch uncontested giving the guests two runners in scoring position. Guerrero then hit a flare that dropped just inside the left field line for a double, which scored Rawl from third to give L-E a 4-2 lead. With runners on second and third after Griffith was able to get a strikeout for the second out of the inning, Holland came to plate and drew a walk. On the 3-0 pitch of the at-bat, the ball got away from catcher Brianna McRae allowing Grigsby to score from third with the third run in the inning.  Holland was able to take second on the walk because of the play at the plate. 

Batting with a 5-2 lead, Douglas hit a deep fly ball to left center that no one could catch up to for a double to bring in Guerrero and Holland to put the Lady Demons on top, 7-2. L-E would continue to add on to the lead when Kelly Graham hit a triple to right center that scored Douglas from second for the sixth run of the inning.  Goerlich then collected her second hit of the inning on a line drive to right center scoring Graham from third to increase the lead to its final 9-2 count.

Offensively, Douglas continued her offensive romp through the playoffs by hitting a pair of doubles which drove in three runs. Guerrero was 2-of-for two with a double and a pair of RBI while Holland and Goerlich each had two hits and an RBI apiece.

In the circle, Lunsford picked up her 25th win on the season. The pivotal point of the game was in the bottom of the third inning where she was able to strand two runners in scoring position with no outs after allowing two runs. The junior finished the night allowing two runs on seven hits with five strikeouts in a complete game effort.

The winner of the game(s) between Lugoff-Elgin and Byrnes will host next Monday’s first game of the best-of-three 4A state championship series.

In the Lower State bracket, Summerville has to defeat Stratford twice today to win the championship.

 

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