View Mobile Site

L-E uses two big innings to take down Beaufort

District III finale comes out 10-4

Posted: May 3, 2018 10:27 a.m.
Updated: May 4, 2018 1:00 a.m.
Tom Didato/C-I

L-E FIRST BASEMAN Walker Branham (16) underhands a toss to pitcher Justin Dorton covering first, which beat Beaufort’s Jacob Anderson to the bag on this first inning grounder, in the first game of Monday’s 4A District III championship.

View More »

Patience is a virtue. For the Lugoff-Elgin baseball team, it became a necessity.

Facing a control-challenged Beaufort pitching staff in Monday’s 4A District VI finals, the Demons used four walks, three hit batsman and a two-run infield single to score five second inning runs. That was enough as L-E went on to take the day’s second game and advance into Thursday’s 4A Lower State tournament with a 10-4 win over the visiting Eagles.

Beaufort forced a second and deciding game with a 4-3 victory in Monday’s opener at Optimist Field.

The Demons (19-7) hosted St. James on Thursday. Win or lose, they will stay home for Saturday’s second round game in the four-team, double-elimination event against either Chapin or A.C. Flora. Game time is set for 3 p.m.

The Eagles arrived in the West Wateree and put up a fight; their third since Saturday when a skirmish broke out in their come-from-behind 11-8 win over Myrtle Beach in a contest in which eight BHS players were ejected from the game and were forced to sit in the bleachers for Monday’s first game. After that, Beaufort survived a Myrtle Beach protest from said game and was not cleared to play at L-E until mid-Monday morning. Then, needing to sweep the host Demons to advance into the four-team Lower State event, the Eagles put up and would not go down without a fight.

Monday’s see-saw of emotions took their toll on L-E head coach Randy Stokes, who admitted to needing more time to fully grasp and go over what took place in the four-plus hour twinbill.

Following the 4-3 loss in the opener, Stokes said he tried to separate himself from his players during the 20-minute break between games. On a team which features nine seniors, he felt that his players understood what lied ahead in the next seven innings.

“I was kind of taking in the environment and trying to see how our kids felt by just watching them,” he said of his being an observer of emotions. “There were some heads (hanging) down because we had lost the first game. We had stressed to them, ‘Let’s win the first one. Don’t worry about the second one. Let’s take care of our business in the first game.’ 

“We put all our eggs in one basket in the first one and we had to regroup.”

Losing the coin toss to determine the home team for game two, Stokes returned to his dugout and told pitching coach Jeremy Ray the Demons would be the visiting team on their home field. Given the first two games with BHS, Ray said that scenario would work.

“When I came back in, I told J Ray, ‘We’re visitors.’ He said that he thought that might be good. He said, ‘We’ve given up first inning runs to them the last two times we were the home team so, let’s try to score first,’” said Stokes. “It was not a bad thing.”

Eagle starter Drew Luckey worked a scoreless opening frame and for the third straight game with L-E, Beaufort scored first as Ethan Graham’s two-out single to left off Bradwin Salmond drove in Cooper Woods with the game’s first run.

Luckey, however, would not live up to his last name in the fateful second.

Just as they did in last Thursday’s 5-3 win over the Eagles in which they scored three fifth inning runs on two walks, three hit batsman and a sacrifice fly, the Demons all but kept the bat on their shoulders in waiting out Luckey.

The one-out rally opened with J.C Legrand drawing a walk with Mason Cassady and Dalton Reeves --- the latter who had courtesy runner Hunter Coleman step in for the L-E catcher --- follow suit to load the bases for Zac Branham, who was hit by a pitch to load the bases with two outs. A walk to Justin Dorton plated Legrand to even things at 1-1. Salmond then hit a liner off the pitching rubber for a two-run single to keep the rally intact and put the hosts up, 3-1.

Walker Branham’s being hit by a pitch re-loaded the bags for Noah Rabon who was hit by a pitch to bring in Dorton while ending Luckey’s mount stint. Brandon Bowersox fared not much better as he issued a free pass to Josh Boone which brought in the fifth run of the inning which gave Salmond a four-run cushion.

“We took advantage of what they gave us,” Stokes said of his hitters not being too eager in the batter’s box. “We took some 2-0 pitches, which we never do. We want our kids to be aggressive but, I just felt that he could not throw enough strikes and that we could take advantage and that we could take advantage of some walks and hit by pitches.”

Salmond, a senior right-hander, was touched up for a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth as the Eagles drew to within 5-3 only for Salmond to get a ground ball out with the bases filled to escape further trouble.

His team’s lead cut to a pair, Stokes encouraged his offense to no sleep on the thinned two-run cushion.

“We were the visitors and I kept reiterating to our guys that (Beaufort) gets the last swing and we needed to go and that we don’t need to be satisfied,” he said. “Those guys know what was at stake and they were going to make a run at us. We needed to be prepared for that run.”

The Demons responded by putting the game away by getting to Eagles’ reliever Jacob Horton for five unearned runs in a top of the sixth in which BHS hurt itself by committing four errors.

With one gone, Rabon singled to left. With two away, J.C. Legrand’s fly ball to right was dropped as Rabon circled the bases with the sixth run. A Cassady single and an RBI single to center from Reeves made it 7-3. Back-to-back errors on ball hits by Zac Branham and Dorton were enough for three more runs to come across as L-E upped its lead to 10-3.

The Eagles’ Wade Olivarri made it a 10-4 final when he hit his second home run of the day and season in the seventh against Salmond who was relieved by Jay Lynch who got the game’s final two outs.

Salmond went 6.1 innings, allowing eight hits while fanning nine and walking one batter. The 6-foot-2 senior was a nice option to have in a deciding game.

“Bradwin’s a competitor, whether it’s baseball, basketball football or marbles it doesn’t matter,” Stokes said. “Bradwin is going to step up and do something very special when the game is on the line. We thought that was going to happen tonight. We had a good feeling about it.”

The Demons collected six hits off a trio of Eagle pitchers with four of those coming in the sixth frame. Salmond had two of those while driving in three runs for an L-E offense which left 13 runners on base in game two after having stranded nine in the opener.

“If we have a faux pas for the year, that’s it,” Stokes said. “We leave a lot of runners on base. 

“We seem to generate base runners but, we just can’t seem to get that big hit. I don’t know the answer to that question as to why we can’t get that big hit. Coach (Joe) Harvley was frustrated in the first game because we left so many guys on. He came in the dugout and expressed his opinion that we had to make things happen when we get people on base. That’s something we didn’t do.”

Beaufort forced a second game by going deep twice in the opener with Olivarri hitting a two-run shot to left in the top of the first before Jeffrey Smyth did likewise, to the same part of the yard on a wind-blown afternoon, in the sixth with two gone.

“I asked one of our coaches how many home runs we’ve given up here the last couple years. There haven’t been many … maybe, a handful and they hit a couple out of here tonight,” Stokes said. “I thought we hit some balls that I thought might get out of here tonight, too, but didn’t.”

Olivarri’s low one-out liner which landed beneath the scoreboard in left gave the Eagles a quick 2-0 lead. L-E got a ruhalf of theZac Branham singled, took second on Dorton’s sacrifice bunt and scored from there on Walker Branham’s two-out single to left.

The Demons gave Dorton, the game one starter, a 3-2 lead after scoring twice in the fourth.

Rabon led off with a double on a liner along the left field line. Boone then beat out a bunt for a single. With two gone, Reeves loaded the bases against BHS starter Graham by working his way for a walk. An error on Zac Branham’s ground ball to second allowed Rabon to score from third as Boone hustled his way in from second with the go-ahead run.

The Eagles regained the lead in the top of the sixth with Graham drawing a two-out walk only for Smyth to follow with his two run shot for the 4-3 lead in what would be Dorton’s final inning of work before Lynch came on to get a 1-2-3 seventh.

“I wish I could have done that inning over,” Stokes said of the top of the sixth. “JD (Dorton) was pretty close (to coming out of the game) when that kid hit the home run in the sixth. We thought we were going to make a move at that point but JD got stronger as the game went. He just left a pitch up and the kid hit it out. That’s baseball. That happens.”

The Demons threatened in their half of the sixth as a Boone double to left and a Legrand bunt single put runners on the corners with no outs. Graham, though, was up to the challenge as the righty got a fly ball to shallow left and two ground outs to third to get out of the mess unscathed. An inning later, L-E threatened again, stranding runners on first and second as Graham finished his complete game 11-hitter by getting a ground out.

The Demons out-hit BHS, 11-8, in the opener with Salmond, Rabon and Boone each having two-hit games.

Just before game two, Stokes delivered a quick message to his team.

“Before the (second) game,” he said, “I called them together and said, ‘Now, is when you are going to show me how mature you are.’ And, they did.

“Now, it’s advance, move on and let’s go see what we can do in the Lower State.”


Commenting not available.
Commenting is not available.

Contents of this site are © Copyright 2018 Chronicle Independent All rights reserved. Privacy policy and Terms of service

Powered by
Morris Technology
Please wait ...