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P-17’s 13-game win streak ends at Orangeburg

Posted: July 2, 2018 12:59 p.m.
Updated: July 3, 2018 1:00 a.m.

Before he left American Legion Park following his team’s 5-1 win over Dalzell-Shaw which clinched the League III title last Thursday, Kershaw County American Legion head coach Stephen Carmon was asked how he would approach the following night’s pair of games at Orangeburg.

“We’ll have Zac Branham pitch the first (suspended) game and then, probably, start (Holden) Bunch in game two and try and finish the regular season at 18-2,” said the first-year Post 17 head coach.

The pitching rotation went as originally planned but the 18-2 part would not come to be as the host Post 4 scored three runs in the top of the sixth and held on for a 3-1 victory in the completion of Tuesday’s game which was suspended in the bottom of the third inning by rain at American Legion Park. 

The loss snapped a 13-game win streak for Carmon and company which bounced back to take the regularly scheduled nightcap and, regular season finale, 2-1.

Last Tuesday night, torrential rains forced the game to be stopped as the hosts were coming to bat in the bottom of the third. KC (17-3) scored a run in the top of the first off Orangeburg starter Austin Sandifer, who took to the mound three nights later and would go the full seven frames.

KC leadoff batter Bradwin Salmond looped a leadoff single to center field against Sandifer to start the bottom of the first on Tuesday. After Jaiden Garner’s sacrifice bunt moved Salmond to second, Jake Laffin lined a one-out RBI single to left to plate Salmond with what proved to be the 17ers’ lone run.

Branham pitched to nine batters in three innings on Tuesday, fanning five while throwing just 27 pitches before the skies opened and forced the game to be finished prior to Friday’s rematch in Orangeburg.

After his first inning problem, Sandifer did not allow a KC base runner to advance beyond first base in the third through sixth innings. Branham, meanwhile, used an inning-ending double play ground ball in the fifth to keep his shutout intact.

In the top of the sixth, though, things came unraveled as Hunter Bauer led off with a double to right before stealing third. He evened things at 1-1 on an Andrew Isgett fielders’ choice. Isgett, who stole second, moved to third when Sandifer got on with a one-out fielders’ choice. Both Isgett and Sandifer scored on an error which put Post 4 on top, 3-1.

KC threatened in the bottom of the seventh which opened with Noah Rabon getting aboard on an error. After William Cobb walked to put runners on first and second with no outs, Sandifer worked himself out of trouble by getting two pop outs and a game-ending ground out.

KC out-hit Post 4, 6-3, in the loss with Salmond having a two-hit night.

Branham (2-2) needed just 82 pitches in his complete game stint in which he scattered three hits, surrendered one earned run, while fanning six and walking a batter.

Following their first loss in 31 days and, in the month of June, the 17ers bounced back to score solo runs in the top half of the sixth and seventh innings to get past the hosts, 2-1.

Orangeburg led off the scoring with an unearned run off Bunch in the bottom of the third as Isgett sent a one-out single to left, stole second and took both third and home on passed ball.

Post 4 starter Hanks Avinger carried a three-hit shutout into the sixth before KC knotted things at 1-1 with Laffin belting a one-out double to left center and scoring when Noah Rabon’s ground ball to shortstop went for an error.

An inning later, KC pushed the winning run across after Chase Galloway belted a one-out double to right. He would score on a throwing error on Garner’s fly ball out to right field.

The hosts sent three batters to the plate in the seventh against Justin Dorton who improved to 4-0 on the season --- and 10-0 in two years with the 17ers --- by working 3.1 innings of no-hit ball with two strikeouts on the evening. His ERA dropped to 1.09.

Bunch went the first 2.2 frames, allowing one hit an unearned run while fanning four batters and walking one. Hunter Coleman came on in relief in the bottom of the third and would work an inning of one-hit ball while getting credit for stunting Orangeburg’s potential third inning rally.

Avinger went the distance for Post 4, giving up an unearned run on four hits with four strikeouts.

Salmond had his third two-hit game in as many contests to lead the KC offense while raising his batting average to .410 on the season, second only to Laffin’s .444 average.

Kershaw County has this week off and will host the first game of the best-of-five first round playoffs series which begins next Monday against a yet-to-be-determined opponent at American Legion Park in Camden at 7 p.m.

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