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Post 17 avoids being swept thanks to Dorton’s big night

Lefty goes eight strong with three hits in 8-3 victory over Sumter

Posted: June 12, 2017 11:54 a.m.
Updated: June 13, 2017 1:00 a.m.
Tom Didato/C-I

BRADY WHITE SHOWS the ball to the home plate umpire who gives the out call after the Post 17 catcher applied the tag on Sumter’s Lathan Todd, who was gunned down at the plate on a throw from KC leftfielder Jay Lynch in the second inning of Thursday’s game.

With the night Justin Dorton was having, who could have blamed him for not wanting the ball taken out of his left hand.

Dorton was bound and determined to finish what he started, even if it would have taken him to the brink of American Legion Baseball’s new pitch-count limit. The left-hander threw eight innings of five-hit ball at visiting Sumter as Kershaw County salvaged the third and final game of its week-long set with an 8-3 win over the visiting P-15s on Thursday night at American Legion Park.

Dorton overcame a bumpy start and a rocky seventh inning to give Post 17 its first win in three League III tries. The rising senior at Lugoff-Elgin threw 110 pitches in his first American Legion start in which he walked four and hit two batters. He also added three hits while driving in a run.

When KC head coach Tyler Pike told Dorton he was sending out Mikael Nelson for the ninth frame, Dorton said he did not put up much of a fight when hearing his coach’s decision. That was not to say that he didn’t want to try for the complete game.

“I felt pretty good,” he said. “I wanted to go back out there for the ninth but 110 (pitches), that’s a lot. I felt good when I left (after the eighth.) I felt the ball start drifting away from me but I still felt like I could do it.”

Dorton was the third Post 17 pitcher in as many games to work, at least, into the seventh inning. Even though Sumter (5-1 in League III) scored 10 runs off KC in each of their first two games of the week, Pike said starting pitching was not the problem.

“You don’t want to get swept, that’s the big thing,” said the second year KC head coach after the series finale. “We knew we were in both those first two games; the scores were not indicative of what those games were like. In game one, we were up, 4-2, in the seventh and then lost it (10-4.) In Sumter (on Tuesday), we were down 2-0 in the seventh and then lost it, 10-0.

“Our starters have been pitching great. We just have to have guys who are coming in from the bullpen be ready to roll and throw strikes.”

KC staked Dorton to a 5-0 run after three frames thanks to a four-run third.

Brady White got things going when his fly ball to right was dropped for a two-base error. With one gone, Cam Holley drove an RBI single to center to make it 2-0. A Bradwin Salmond single followed and with two outs, Dorton helped himself with an infield single --- his first hit on the night --- which plated Holley with the third run. Jay Lynch then drove in runs four and five with a single to center off Sumter lefty starter Chandler Hunter.

An inning later, in what would be Hunter’s final inning of work, Post 17 tacked on a sixth run as Tyler Maxwell singled to left and later scored on Josh Boone’s one-out single to left to make it 6-0.

That would be more than enough run support for Dorton who did not allow a run through the first six innings in which he only allowed three hits.

“He kept us off-balance. He kept us off-stride but we only struck out three times tonight. We put the ball in play and they made plays on defense,” said Sumter head coach Steve Campbell in assessing Dorton’s performance.

“We booted the ball around a little bit in the first couple innings and they scored five or six runs off us. They did what they should have done and we didn’t.”

The P-15s had Dorton on the ropes in the top of the seventh which opened with Andrew Twitty smacking a leadoff double to left center. With one out, Ryan Moore singled before Daniel Reynolds followed with a walk to load the bases with still one out. Dorton then hit Caleb Larrimore to bring Twitty in with the first Sumter run. Ryan Touchberry then walked to plate Moore as the guests had runners on every base with one gone. Dorton, though, got a strikeout and a force out to get out of the jam with a 6-2 lead.

Asked if he considered pulling Dorton after seven innings, Pike said he talked to his pitcher who told his skipper that he was fine. Pike then sent him out for the eighth in which Dorton faced just three batters.

“Dorton looked fine,” Pike said. “The seventh was a little rough when he let a couple runs get by but he still looked good. He didn’t seem to be losing anything off his fastball and his breaking ball was still there. His pitches weren’t getting away from him.

“I stayed with him and kept asking him how he was feeling and he kept saying that he felt fine so, we kept rolling with him.”

KC added a pair of insurance runs off Touchberry, who came on to start the fifth inning, in the home half of the eighth.

Boone started the two-out mini-rally with a single to center. Holley and Salmond followed with singles with Salmond’s liner to right driving in Boone. Holley made it 8-2, scoring on a wild pitch.

The six-run cushion and Dorton’s pitch count led to Pike’s calling on Nelson, who was making his second relief appearance of the week.

A one-out single to right by Reynolds, whose foul ball was dropped and gave him a second life, got things started. Reynolds then stole second and took third on the overthrow to center field. Larrimore then worked his way for a walk before Touchberry’s grounder to shortstop was thrown away for a two-base error with Reynolds scoring on the play. After pinch-hitter Hampton Rowe’s sinking liner to right was caught by Maxwell, Nelson issued a walk to Lathan Todd which loaded the bases for Joey Pereira who went down swinging on a 3-2 pitch to end the threat and the game.

KC opened the scoring with a solo run in the second off Hunter, who walked Dorton to lead off the inning. Dorton later scored when Bryce Padgett’s grounder to shortstop was booted for an error.

Sumter received a hit each from five different players while leaving 13 runners on base with eight of those in scoring position. KC helped itself with three double plays with the first of those coming in the second when leftfielder Lynch caught Sam Marlow’s fly ball and then threw a strike to White at the plate, who applied the tag on Todd who had tagged up at third.

After the game, Dorton said he had confidence in his defense which made his job on the mound easier.

“I kind of had a rough first inning but I powered through it,” he said of an opening frame in which he issued a pair of walks. “I was really just trying to throw strikes and let my defense play behind me.”

As Dorton made his way toward the dugout after the post-game meeting, Pike smiled in talking about his southpaw who came up big on Thursday.

“Dorton’s a dog,” he said of his lefty’s tenacity on the mound. “He’s one of those battlers who is going to throw strikes and be right around the strike zone all night. At this level of ball, especially, you can’t have enough of those kind of guys. 

“He was incredible. He was really, really good with all of his pitches. He figured out a way to be crafty and keep their guys off-balance. He put the ball over the plate, made them put the ball in play and we made some good plays behind him today.”

Keeping POSTed: When the scheduled base umpire did not show up for the game, it pressed Lugoff-Elgin assistant coach and former P-17 player David Stokes into action for an inning. Wearing boots, Stokes had one close play to call on a pickoff move to second by Dorton only to rule the P-15 runner safe when the throw to the bag was bobbled … When the home plate umpire informed Pike that he had not heard from the base umpire, Pike grabbed shortstop Bradwin Salmond, whose father Tony is a certified umpire and calls high school baseball, to see if he could work the game. Tony Salmond was en route to watch the game when he received the call and backtracked to change into his umpire’s gear and worked the second through ninth innings … KC was minus five starters on Thursday which forced Pike to shuffle things on defense and in the batting order. Dorton was moved to the cleanup position and came through in a big way. With Dorton pitching, that left a hole at first base. On Thursday afternoon, Pike texted Padgett, who is a catcher at L-E and who has seen time on the mound for the 17ers, to inform him that he would be starting at first base. In his debut at first, Padgett more than held his own for eight innings before Dorton moved there for the ninth … KC collected 11 hits on the night led by Dorton’s three. Holley, Salmond and Boone all had two-hit nights with Boone swiping two bases in as many attempts … The 17ers travel to Kelleytown tonight to play Hartsville (1-5). Game three is slated for Thursday at 7 p.m. in Camden.


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