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Even at worst, Post 17ers prove to be best

KC locks up circuit’s championship in 5-1 victory over Jets

Posted: July 2, 2018 1:01 p.m.
Updated: July 3, 2018 1:00 a.m.
Tom Didato/C-I

POST 17 SHORTSTOP Todd Mattox fields a Gavin Melton ground ball which he fired to first base for an out in the first inning of Thursday’s win over Dalzell-Shaw.

There was no dog pile on the pitcher’s mound. No water bucket dumped on a coach and, most assuredly, there were no hoots and hollers coming from the Kershaw County side of the field after Post 17 clinched its first League III American Legion baseball crown in more than 30 years.

The mood was rather subdued for the locals following Thursday’s 5-1 win over visiting Dalzell-Shaw at muggy American Legion Park.

The victory was the 13th in a row and ninth in 10 league outings which gave KC (16-2) the league championship with two games to spare.

In spite of the benchmark event, first-year P-17 head coach Stephen Carmon was hardly feeling celebratory as he walked back toward the third base dugout after a postgame meeting with his players. He said he was just glad his team was able to come away with the win on one of its most lackluster games of the season.

“I just told our guys that this was the worst game that we played all year; pitching, fielding, hitting … everything,” he said. “I know they only got one run but (KC starting pitcher) Jay (Lynch) was all over the place. We were giving them base runners all night. We made a couple errors and we did not have good at-bats. We were swinging at bad pitches.

“I told them their focus is the only thing that is going to hold them back. We have the talent and we have the athletic ability but we have to be mentally locked in. We did get the win and won the league championship which was good. We’re going to look on the bright side and move forward.”

For Dalzell-Shaw (0-9 in League III and 1-4 overall) Thursday’s game was a microcosm of its season.

The visiting Jets allowed one earned run, committed three errors and left the bases loaded in a one-run third inning in the loss.

Jets’ head coach Jamie Lisenby said Thursday’s contest followed an all-too-familiar script.

“We should have scored more runs there. That would have changed the game,” Lisenby said of the third inning. “Earned runs-wise, we only gave up one earned run the whole game to the number one team in the state. That’s kind of been our whole season right there; we make an error, give up a run and then, we get out of it the very next pitch. If we had done our job the pitch before, we’d be in the ballgame.

“(KC) is a very good team, a very good team, but we just gave them too many runs. Their pitcher (Lynch) was good. We just didn’t get enough hits. When we had our opportunity, we just didn’t take advantage of it like good teams do.”

Dalzell-Shaw starter Parker Gogan, who two years earlier pitched for KC in the championship game of the 2016 state tournament against Florence at Riley Park, got the starting nod for the guests and allowed two runs in each of the first two innings, three of which were unearned. The left-hander worked his way out of trouble in the first as Post 17 had runners on second and third before Gogan got Brady White to fly out to left field.

The inning opened with Bradwin Salmond reaching on an error and scored from first when Todd Mattox followed with a double which hugged the left field line. Noah Rabon’s one-out comebacker to Gogan plated Mattox made it a 2-0 game.

Another Jets’ miscue in the field led to a pair of second inning runs as the hosts gave Lynch a 4-0 cushion after two innings.

With one gone, Josh Boone got aboard after being hit by a pitch. Salmond then lined a single to right which went through for an error as Boone circled the bases while Salmond landed on third base thanks to the two-base error. He scored the fourth run when a Mattox grounder to third was booted for an error.

Lisenby said Gogan, who requested and received his release from Post 17 prior to the start of the season, was amped up for his return to the field which he called home for his high school and, as of 2016, his American Legion playing days.

“(Gogan) scuffled there the first and second innings. I thought there might have been too much emotion going on,” Lisenby said of the 2017 Camden High graduate. “Then, he settled down and settled in. He did his job and threw extremely well. “We were getting ready to take him out in the third or fourth inning and then, he caught fire and started doing very well. We left him out there until his pitch count got to 103 pitches. He did very well. I was very pleased with him.”

Lynch ran into trouble with one gone in the third when Chris Parrish delivered a one-out single to left. Gavin Melton, Hunter McGee and Malcolm Brown then stroked consecutive two-out singles with Brown’s liner to right plating Parrish with the first run. Lynch got out of the mess only allowing that one run by getting a strikeout for the third out with the bags filled.

Lynch worked the first five innings and allowed all four of his hits in the third inning while striking out six and walking three batters. Hunter Coleman came on to start the sixth and gave up one hit in each frame while fanning two batters to close the contest.

KC’s fourth unearned run came in the fourth as Salmond, who singled and went to third on a Jake Laffin single to right, scored on the play on an error on the throw to third base.

The hosts collected just six hits on the evening with Salmond getting two of those. Carmon said his batters never got into a rhythm against Gogan, whose off-speed repertoire kept KC off-balance.

“We’ve been playing a lot of good teams lately with a lot of good arms and we’ve seen a lot of velo (velocity),” Carmon said. “Then, you throw a guy out there who is funky and who throws softer and takes his time, it kind of lulls you to sleep and our guys fell for it. I told them we have to do better than that.”

Keeping POSTed: The mound win gave Lynch his fourth victory in as many decisions this year. The right-hander, who threw 85 pitches Thursday, improved to 10-2 in his two American Legion campaigns … For the past three years, KC has had one change of pace pitcher out of the bullpen and Coleman, who is signed to play at Kentucky Christian, has filled that role this season. In six appearances, all in relief, the right-hander has pitched to a 1.73 ERA. He has one win in two decisions to go along with a pair of saves … By virtue of locking down the League III title, Post 17 will have home field advantage in its first round state playoff series which begins Monday, July 9. Should KC move on to the second round, the locals would also have home field for games one, three and, if needed, five, in the best-of-five series … The first two rounds will be a round-robin for League III. As things stood going into Monday’s slate, KC would host either Hartsville in opening round action. The other half of the Midlands Region bracket will have Lexington meeting Sumter in round one. Those two teams both sport 7-3 records and will conclude a two-night home and home series tonight in Sumter which could decide the runner-up in League III, depending on what happens over the course of the two days. A sweep by either side locks down second place and home field in opening round play.

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