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Camden drills Devils, 11-4, faces Pats for district title

Posted: May 1, 2017 4:27 p.m.
Updated: May 2, 2017 1:00 a.m.
Tom Didato/C-I

CAMPBELL JORDAN GETS READY to cross home plate with the fifth Camden run in a seven-run second inning in Saturday’s 11-4 win over Clinton in a AAA District 4 elimination game at American Legion Park.

Camden’s offensive struggles this spring have been well-chronicled. In their most important game of the season, though, the Bulldog bats came to life.

Buoyed by a seven-run top of the second, Camden staved off elimination in the AAA District 4 tournament with an 11-4 victory over visiting Clinton in a Saturday matinee at American Legion Park.

The Dogs, who downed the Red Devils, 5-0, in last Thursday’s tourney opener, advanced to Monday’s scheduled tourney championship round. In order to advance to Thursday’s four-team Upper State tournament, the Dogs had to knock off the hometown Patriots twice in one night.

Before his team could set their sights on a trip to the Upstate, Denny Beckley and company had to get past the Red Devils in a noon start in which the thermometer hovered around the 90 degree mark; easily their hottest game of the season. The warm conditions made Gus Allen’s pitching performance even more impressive.

Allen, a junior right-hander, improved to 2-0 on the season with a complete game three-hitter. He fanned two batters and issued three walks in a 99-pitch outing. Clinton scored all its run in the fourth and all were unearned.

Two days before his team headed to Powdersville and had to sweep a doubleheader to advance, Beckley said not having to go to his bullpen was not only a key on Saturday but would be a boon if his team could have forced a second and deciding game on Monday.

“It was just what we needed and just what Gus needed,” said the 19th year Camden boss on Allen’s effort. “It’s been kind of a frustrating year for Gus and for him to throw game like that on this stage … it gives him, hopefully, momentum going through the rest of the postseason for us. If not, he can take some momentum going into his senior year.”

The Dogs staged one of their best innings of the season in the second off Clinton starter Chance Ewell. The hosts had their first 11 batters reach base in an extended rally in which they collected eight hits while leaving the bases filled.

The merry go round started with Tyler Maxwell driving a leadoff single to center and then, stealing second. Allen followed by sending a single to left before being replaced by courtesy runner Ryland Ayers, who stole second to put runners in scoring position for Brady White, whose two-run single to left gave the Dogs a 2-0 lead. Parker David, who was the courtesy runner for the Camden catcher, promptly swiped second for the third consecutive stolen base to put runners in scoring position.

Beckley later said his team’s offense is at their best when they are making things happen on the base paths.

“When we run and get a lot of stolen bases,” he said of his team seven swipes, four of which came in the second inning, “it really seems to open up a lot of things for us.”

Campbell Jordan kept the hit parade going by legging out a bunt along the first base line for a single. An error on the throw to first allowed David to score from second while Jordan landed on second base on the play. John Bailey then lined a double along the left field line to make it 4-0 while also ending Ewell’s pitching stint in favor of Taylor Bailey.

A change on the mound did not slow the Dogs down as Nick Butler traded places with Bailey by sending a run-scoring double down the line in left for a 5-0 lead. Butler went to third on a Lindsay Pierce single to left. After Pierce stole second, Devin Beckley walked to load the bases, still with nobody out.

Butler was thrown out at the plate as William Cobb reached first on a fielders’ choice. With the bases still juiced, Maxwell collected his second hit of the inning, this a two-run chopper to left to make it 7-0.

That appeared to take the wind out of the Red Devils’ sails but a strong gust came their way in the top of the fourth.

Clinton’s damage was done with one out as Dakota Webb worked his way for a walk before Bailey was hit by a pitch. The circus then started for the Dogs as three fielding errors more than helped the guest along. Things could have been worse had it not been for Clinton’s Aaron Copeland getting greedy as he tried to catch Allen napping by taking third following a dropped Charlie Craven liner. Allen, though, spun around and fired a strike to Devin Beckley at third who put the tag on Copeland well in front of the bag for the final out.

“We gave them six outs and, if you want to get technical about it,” Denny Beckley said of the top of the fourth, “we gave them seven outs because we should have a turned a double play in that inning. We did a good job of answering and getting the momentum back, though.”

Clinton scored runs without the benefit of a base hit. The long inning also led Denny Beckley to summoning freshman Tate Abbott to the bullpen to warm up in case things got worse.

“We were close … we really were,” Denny Beckley said of possible having to pull Allen. “We had Tate ready to go. Tate really wants to be put in those situations and we want to put him in those situations but we’re planning on playing two games on Monday so Tate is going to figure in that. There was no sense burning him today with Gus throwing well.”

Camden was able to right the ship in the home half of the fourth by scoring four runs on three hits while being helped along by a pair of Red Devil errors.

Devin Beckley’s high chopper to left kicked things off. He would take second on an errant pickoff throw to first before moving to third on Cobb’s ground out. Maxwell delivered, again, with his third hit in as many innings, this an RBI single to center followed by his stealing second base. Allen’s single to left put runners on the corners for White who lined a single through the box to bring Beckley across with the ninth run. Ayers went to third on the play while White landed on second on the throw back to the infield.

Jordan scored Ayers with a fielders’ choice to make it 10-4 while Bailey’s sacrifice fly to center was deep enough to bring David home from third with the final run of the afternoon as Allen would shut Clinton down over the final three frames. 

Camden collected 11 hits in the win with Maxwell, a sophomore, continuing to swing a red-hot bat with a three-hit game which included a trio of RBI. Allen and White had two hits each with White driving in three base runners.

Denny Beckley hopes his team’s bat stay hot or, at least have players follow Maxwell’s lead at the plate.

“Obviously,” he said, “we swung the bats well today. 

“Tyler Maxwell continues to swing the bat well for us and he put together some really good at-bats for us in the five slot. He’s really matured and the thing you like about his in his competitiveness. Even in his last at-bat today, which was a strikeout, you could tell that he was not content with three hits and that he was focused on that next at-bat. I thought that was really key.”


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