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Momentum stays on Demons' side

L-E extends win streak to four with 7-4 win over Chapin

Posted: April 19, 2011 4:27 p.m.
Updated: April 20, 2011 5:00 a.m.

At this late stage in the season, playing a non-conference baseball game --- for a team which is battling for a post-season slot --- would be easy to dismiss.

Not so for Lugoff-Elgin.

Needing one win over their final three Region 4-4A games --- starting with last night’s contest against Spring Valley --- to lock up a playoff berth, the Demons stepped out of league play Monday night and returned home with a 7-4 win over Region5-AAA leader Chapin. The victory was the fourth in a row for Randy Stokes’ troops, which improved to 6-2 since the start of spring break.

Staying hot was the primary objective for the Demons on Monday.

"I thought that the key for us going into this game was to not lose our momentum," said L-E head coach Randy Stokes, whose team hosts Irmo this evening for Senior Night. "The outcome of this game was not important as far as the playoffs go. The important part for us was not to have a letdown at this point in our season."

The Demons grabbed a quick 4-0 lead after two innings and never looked back as junior Jacob Young picked up his second win in his last two decisions. The right-hander worked the first 5.1 innings before giving way to classmate Ryan Hinson, who got a big strikeout with the bases loaded and two outs and, with the score standing at 7-4 in the bottom of the sixth.

Offensively, the Demons had 10 hits with leadoff man Jacob Murphy going 2-for-4 while driving in three runs. The key, however, was the bottom third of the order in which Chance Rabon, Stephen Burnham and Josh Ruiz each had two hits while going a combined 6-for-8 at the plate with Ruiz cracking a pair of doubles.

"The bottom of our order is really coming alive for us," Stokes said. "Chance, Stephen and Josh are really picking it up.

"We have some guys who are having their best at-bats of the season, right now. We had some guys who were scuffling a little earlier who had to pick it up. These guys have done that for us."

The Demons gave Young a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first after Murphy singled, stole second and came around on Devin Walker’s single.

The guests hung up a three-spot an inning later as Rabon reached on an error. Burnham’s single would put runners on the corner for Ruiz, who doubled home Rabon. Murphy followed with a two-run single to give the Demons a 4-0 advantage.

Leading, 4-2, after five frames, the Demons tacked on three more runs in the sixth, an inning which opened with a Burnham walk followed by a Ruiz double. Murphy’s sacrifice fly to left drove Burnham home and Ruiz to third. Blake Outlaw’s ground out brought Ruiz across with the sixth run. Chase Duncan kept the rally alive, drawing a two-out walk before stealing second. He took third and later scored, both on passed balls.

The Eagles closed to within 7-4 with a pair in the bottom of the sixth. They had the bases loaded with Hinson on the mound, facing a batter with a 3-2 count. The junior would throw a curveball for a called third strike to get out of the jam.

With three playoff games remaining in the regular season, Stokes said he likes the way his players rebounded from some early season struggles to put things together when it matters most.

"We’re playing the best ball we’ve played all year," he said. "This is the time of the season that you want to be playing your best.

"It was just a couple weeks ago that we were all scratching our heads and wondering what direction we were going. You have to give our guys a lot of credit. They have really turned things around."

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