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Hartsville hands 17ers 2-1 loss in league opener

Posted: May 30, 2018 4:46 p.m.
Updated: June 1, 2018 1:00 a.m.

Two nights after having won the Florence Post 1 Invitational by defeating the two-time defending state American Legion champion and tourney host Florence, 11-7, in the championship game, Kershaw County Post 17 was brought down to earth by Hartsville Tuesday.

The locals managed just two hits off Post 53’s KeyShawn McDonald, 2-1, in the League III opener for both sides.

McDonald, a 6-foot-1 rising sophomore at Hartsville High, allowed a first inning run before pitching himself out of trouble in the top of the sixth after the guests were unable to push across a run after having runners on the corners with no out. McDonald, who got out the jam with back-to-back strikeouts followed by an inning-ending comebacker, fanned six and walked four batters in going all seven frames.

“He had a pretty good fastball,” first-year KC head coach Stephen Carmon said of McDonald’s 91-pitch outing. “I would say he was throwing in the mid-80s and he might have run it up to 86 every now and then. 

“We struggled catching up to his fastball. Our guys were a little late on it but, he did a good job. You have to give him credit.”

The 17ers got to McDonald early as Bradwin Salmond opened the game by being hit by a pitch and stealing second. Moving to third on a Todd Mattox fly out to right, Salmond came in with the game’s first run when Jake Laffin sent a one-out sacrifice fly to center.

KC starter Zac Branham, who went all six innings and allowed three hits while striking out four batters on a 75-pitch night, gave up two runs in a controversial bottom of the third. With a Hartsville runner on third with two outs, Branham got Dariyan Pendergrass to hit a grounder to Mattox at shortstop. The throw to first looked to have beaten the runner to the bag but Pendergrass was called safe on the bang-bang play as the tying run scored. After swiping second, Pendergrass came across with what proved to be the winning run on a two-out single.

After not having advanced a runner beyond second base since the top of the first, a Salmond walk opened the sixth. Mattox then lined a single to right to put runners on first and third with no outs only for McDonald to come up big by setting down the next three batters.

“I told our guys after the game that that was the difference in the game,” Carmon said of the missed chance in the sixth. “When you have runners in scoring position with no outs, you have to put the ball in play. You can’t strike out.

“It was just one of those nights where nothing was clicking for us offensively and, we didn’t get that big hit when we needed it.”

On the other side of the coin, Branham was the tough-luck loser on a night in which had the call gone KC’s way in the third, he would have been out of the inning and on his way to throwing a shutout.

“Zac pitched a great game and we played great defense. It has been like that all year,” said Carmon of his squad which fell to 3-2 on the season. “Our pitching has been good and our defense has been good. In the two games that we’ve lost, we just haven’t put it all together offensively. If we can figure a way to put everything together, we’re a scary team.”

Last weekend in Florence, the 17ers kicked off the four games in three nights event by drubbing Hartsville, 12-1, in Kellytown in Friday’s opener.

Salmond had a huge opening night in the game stopped after six frames by the 10-run rule as the Spartanburg Methodist College signee smacked a three-run blast in a six-run top of the second before adding a two-run double the three-run sixth to give him five RBI on the night.

Salmond and Mattox each had three-hit nights while Branham added a pair of singles.

Tate Abbott went the distance for the win. The righty scattered four hits and allowed a run in an 87-pitch effort.

Saturday afternoon, P-17 fell to Horry County, 4-3, in 10 innings. Post 111 scored the winning run in the top of the 10th with a pair of KC errors allowing the winning run to cross the plate after having been blanked from the second through ninth frames after opening the game with three runs in the first.

KC scored a pair in the home portion of the first as Jaiden Garner and Mattox lined consecutive singles. Garner scored on a Chase Galloway sacrifice fly while Mattox drew the hosts to within 3-2 when he came across on a William Cobb single to center.

Post 17 evened things with a run in the fifth as Salmond drew a leadoff walk, stole second and later scored on a Mattox sac fly to center.

Later that evening, KC rode the arms of Jay Lynch and Justin Dorton to a 5-1 win over Whiteville (N.C.) Lynch, a righty, went the first 5.1 innings, allowing four hits while striking out five. Dorton, a lefty, finished the game on the mound with 1.2 innings of perfect work.

After a Galloway sac fly drove in Salmond with a run in the first, KC went up 3-0 after two as Branham was hit by a pitch before scoring on an error which allowed Salmond to get aboard. A Mattox double to left center made it 3-0.

KC answered a Whiteville run in the third with a pair in the fourth. Josh Boone was hit by a pitch, stole second and scored on a passed ball while Mattox, who got on when he was hit by a pitch, came home on a Cobb single.

“The first game against Hartsville (on Friday),” Carmon said, “our guys were excited; you could see that. In the first game Saturday, we came out a little sluggish and it showed. We came out against Whiteville wanting to redeem ourselves after a loss that we shouldn’t have had.”

Facing Florence in Sunday night’s finale, in a rematch of the 2016 American Legion state championship contest, the 17ers evened things at 1-1 when Laffin sent a solo bomb out to right center. A four-run second was highlighted by Noah Rabon getting on with a leadoff single and scoring on Garner’s two-out single to center. Walks to Boone and Salmond loaded the bases for Mattox who lined a three-run double into right center for a 5-1 lead.

The hosts scored a pair in the second and added three in the third to go on top, 6-5. KC took control of this one with a five-run sixth.

Garner got on with a two-out fielders’ choice before Boone sent a two-run homer to left to put the guests on top, 7-6. The rally continued with a Salmond single being followed by an RBI Mattox double to left. Galloway made it 10-6 with his two-run single.

P-17 added a run in the seventh with Cobb getting a leadoff single and scoring on an error.

Hunter Coleman worked 4.1 innings in relief, allowing one run, to get the win. 

Offensively, KC collected 13 hits with Mattox going 3-for-4 while driving in four runs. Cobb and Garner had two hits apiece.

Mattox, a 2017 Blythewood grad who played at USC-Lancaster this past season, finished the tournament with eight hits in 15 at-bats (.533) with three doubles, a pair of stolen bases and seven RBI.

Carmon said the win over Florence on its home field was a morale-booster for his team.

“It definitely gave us confidence and, we have a confident bunch already. We don’t lack in that area,” Carmon said. “Baseball, especially hitting, is all about being confident and feeling good about yourself.

“A lot of our guys knew about Florence and how they are one of the best teams year after year and they wanted to go out and prove that Post 17 is on the rise and that we’re going to be one of those teams that is going to stick around for a long time.”

KC was scheduled to have opened its home season last night against Hartsville before traveling to meet Dalzell-Shaw tonight in a 7 p.m. start. Carmon said opening league play with a loss was a blip on his team’s radar screen.

“It’s like I told our guys,” he said, “losing that first (league) game is always a downer but it’s not the end all. We have 11 more league games to play and we have a good enough team to where we can go 11-0 from here on out.

“Our guys are going to be ready (for Thursday’s game.) Hopefully, we can get back on track and get this thing going.”

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