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Branham, KC take down Sumter, 2-1

Locals sit alone atop League III

Posted: June 14, 2018 9:34 a.m.
Updated: June 15, 2018 1:00 a.m.

SUMTER --- Three down, one to go.

In their most important week of the regular season, the Kershaw County Post 17 American Legion baseball team followed up Tuesday’s doubleheader sweep of Lexington by taking the first of two games with Sumter by downing the P-15s, 2-1, Wednesday night at Riley Park.

Sumter had a chance to take control of first place in League III. Now, it has to find a way to get a road win to keep Post 17 from getting a stranglehold on first place.

KC scored a run in the top of the seventh inning and held off a P-15’s rally in the bottom of the inning to pick up a one-run victory.

Post 17 improved to 7-2 on the season and 5-1 in league play. Sumter dropped to 6-3 overall and 5-2 in League III. The teams faced off Thursday in Camden with the hosts looking to distance themselves from the rest of the field in the six-team circuit.

“This was a really good game tonight,” said P-15’s head coach Curtis Johnson. “It was really well pitched. Their guy was throwing everything for strikes -- fastball, changeup and breaking ball. And Lathan (Todd) pitched a great game for us. He did what he normally does and that’s give us a chance to win.

“Their guy” is KC right-hander Zac Branham. He limited Sumter to just two hits while striking out eight. He walked two -- one intentionally -- and hit a batter.

“We could tell early on that Zac was really on tonight,” said Post 17 head coach Stephen Carmon. “We knew we were going to be able to go with him. We just needed to get him some runs.”

Todd, the right-hander who had signed with The Citadel, made that difficult. He scattered six hits while striking out three and hitting two batters.

Todd gave up a leadoff single to Bradwin Salmond to start the game, but immediately picked him off first base. In the second, KC loaded the bases with one out on singles from Noah Rabon and Chase Galloway before William Cobb was hit by a pitch. Todd escaped the jam by getting Chris Rivers on an infield fly rule that was dropped and getting a called third strike for the final out.

Post 17 took a 1-0 lead in the third without the benefit of a hit. After two were out, Jake Laffin was hit by a pitch. A throwing error by third baseman Trent Frye and a fielding error by shortstop Ryan Moore allowed Laffin to score.

Branham mowed through the Sumter order in the early going, retiring the first 11 batters of the game. That streak came to an end when Jacob Holladay reached on an error with two outs in the fourth. A wild pitch moved him to second, and he scored when Joey Pereira hit a hard ground ball off of Branham’s leg that made it into the outfield to tie the game at 1-1.

Another hit would not come from either team until the seventh. Cobb led off the KC at-bat with a single and went to second on a one-out single by Josh Boone. Salmond followed with a line drive at Pereira at second. He jumped for the ball, but it hit off his glove and went into right, allowing Cobb to score.

“Lathan is a really good pitcher,” Carmon said. “Our guys did a good job of putting the bat on the ball in that inning.”

Sumter did not go down without a fight, though. 

With one out in the bottom of the seventh, Moore, who had struck out in his first two at-bats, hit a shot that was just inside the first base line for a double. Daulton Dabbs was hit by a pitch before Branham struck out Rylan Williamson for the second out

Johnson decided to have Todd come in to pinch-hit for Frye, but that set off a delay as it was debated whether Todd could come into a spot in the batting order other than for the designated hitter. It was determined he could, but a passed ball moved the runners up a base and KC intentionally walked Todd to load the bases.

Branham got Cory Blackley to hit into a fielder’s choice to end the game.

“We’ve just got to go over there tomorrow and scratch and claw and go from there,” Johnson said. “We were one bounce from winning the game, but it didn’t happen.”

KC scored a run in the top of the seventh inning and held off a P-15’s rally in the bottom of the inning to pick up a 2-1 victory.

 “We’ve just got to go over there (Thursday) and scratch and claw and go from there,” Johnson said. “We were one bounce from winning the game, but it didn’t happen.”

League III standings: Here is how League III shapes up through games played Wednesday night: Post 17 (5-1), Sumter (4-2), Hartsville (3-2), Lexington (2-2), Orangeburg (2-3), Manning-Santee (1-2), Dalzell-Shaw (0-6)

Game notes: In a game in which the first four innings took less than an hour to complete, Branham threw 87 pitches with 54 of those being for strikes. The L-E graduate and Florence-Darlington Tech signee improved to 1-1 on the season while lowering his ERA to 1.87 … Salmond, an L-E grad who recently signed with Spartanburg Methodist College, collected two of KC’s six hits while driving in a run as he raised his batting average to .355 on the season. He also leads the team with eight runs batted in … After having played four games in three nights this week, the 17ers will play a home and home series with Manning-Santee next week. The League III rivals meet at American Legion Park in Camden on Tuesday before the series closes in Manning next Thursday night. Both games have 7 p.m. starts … Following the Manning-Santee set, Carmon and company will close out league play with three games the week of June 25 with two of those games being with Orangeburg with a second meeting against Dalzell-Shaw sandwiched in between … Next weekend, KC travels to Georgetown to play in the Palmetto Legion Invitational. The locals will face Danville (Ky.) at 5 p.m. next Friday’s opener. Next Saturday, KC meets Georgetown at 11 a.m. before playing Goose Creek at 1:30 p.m. How the 17ers do in those three games will determine against who and at what time they will play on Sunday.

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