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Fourth inning rally carries Camden past T-breds, 4-3

Posted: April 4, 2018 11:46 a.m.
Updated: April 6, 2018 1:00 a.m.
Tom Didato/C-I

CAMDEN THIRD BASEMAN Zane Cook fields this grounder off the bat of South Aiken’s Greyson Cruze to end the second inning of Monday’s game.

For three innings, Camden’s offense was unable to do anything with South Aiken starter Sam Swygert.

That all changed the second time through the order as the Bulldogs scored four runs on five hits in the bottom of the fourth and made that hold up in a 4-3 win over the Thoroughbreds in Monday’s opening round of the Kershaw-Richland Wooden Bat Tournament at American Legion Park in Camden.

The victory snapped a four-game skid for Camden which improved to 5-10 on the season.

The fourth inning rally came after the guests opened the scoring with a pair of unearned runs in the top half of the fourth to stake Swygert to a 2-0 lead.

Swygert, a right-hander who allowed one hit while fanning five in the first three frames, gave up a one-out single to right off the bat of Holden Bunch in the fourth. Tate Abbott, who would go the distance on the mound for Camden, followed with a single to left before being replaced at first by courtesy runner Andrew Leaird. 

With two gone and runners on first and second, Jake Tanner sent an RBI single to right which plated Bunch with the first run while Leaird wound up at third on the play. Jacob Jordan’s single brought Leaird across with the tying run as CHS had runners on the corners. Jordan then, purposely, got caught in a rundown between first and second as Tanner started creeping toward home. When the Thoroughbreds focused their efforts in trying to get Jordan for the third out, Tanner broke for home and made it safely. Jordan took second on the play and scored from there on Matthew Cassidy’s single which got past second baseman Corley Cheeks as the hosts went on top, 4-2.

Camden finished the game with five singles, all but one of which came in the pivotal fourth inning.

“(Swygert) was effectively wild in the first three innings,” said CHS head coach Denny Beckley’s of SA’s starter. “Our guys had some real good at-bats against him in the fourth. We pieced hits together, which is something we have not done much of this season, and it was huge.”

South Aiken closed the gap to one run in the fifth which opened with a D.J. Ludwick triple to left field. With one gone, Cheeks was hit by a pitch before he, too, got into a called rundown and was tagged out while Ludwick came into score.

Abbott, who threw 107 pitches in a complete game effort, worked out of a jam in the seventh. Ludwick sent a one-out single to left, stole second and went to third on a Brayden Farmer ground out. With two gone, Abbott got Cheeks on a soft liner to Bunch at first base to end the game.

Abbott, a sophomore righty, scattered four hits, fanned seven, did not walk a batter and pitched his way around three Camden errors in picking up the win. Beckley later said it was a team effort between Abbott and pitching coach Joe Bowers.

“Tate was able to establish his fastball early in the game and threw it for strikes,” said the Bulldogs’ head coach. “He was getting ahead of hitters and then worked in his changeup. He was also throwing his curveball for strikes.

“A lot of the credit goes to coach Bowers who, in my opinion, called one of the best games that I’ve ever seen called. At the same time, Tate was the one throwing those pitches so a lot of credit goes to him, as well.”

South Aiken has two underclassmen who are nationally ranked in their respective classes. Beckley said he was not concerned with what the T-breds brought to the table. Instead, his focus was on his young squad.

“We’re more concerned about our own team that we are with them,” he said. “We know they have a good team and a very good program in South Aiken but I didn’t know the first thing about them before this game.

“In baseball, the struggle is more about what you’re team is doing right instead of worrying about who you are playing. At least, that is the case for us this year with the young team that we have.”

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