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KC has perfect first week

17ers host Sumter tonight in battle of unbeatens

Posted: June 4, 2011 2:47 p.m.
Updated: June 6, 2011 5:00 a.m.
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BLAKE OUTLAW CRACKED a pair of home runs in KC’s romp over Cheraw on Friday.

As far as opening weeks are concerned, that which the Kershaw County American Legion baseball team turned in for first-year head coach Curtis Johnson is playing to rave reviews.

On Friday, Post 17 completed a perfect first week of the League III season in pounding host Cheraw, 17-4.

The lopsided victory put the locals in a first-place tie in the six-team circuit along with Sumter, both with 4-0 records. Tonight, Sumter, the defending state champion will pay the first of two visits to American Legion Park. A win over Post 15 would be the first time in many a season in which KC has led the circuit at this stage in the season.

While this has the trappings of a big game, Johnson, a former Sumter player, said the 17ers cannot lose sight of the big picture.

"It’s a big game," he said, "but this is a long, 20-game season. This is the first of four times that we’ll play Sumter this year, but it would be a big game for us to come out with a win."

KC will send Scott Baldwin (1-0) to the mound. The right-hander earned the win in the season-opener, a 7-2 victory over Hartsville. Sumter is expected to counter with Tyler Smith, a lefty, who shut out Manning-Santee, 10-0, last Monday night.

"It’s a baseball game, where if we play a sound game, we’ll give ourselves a chance to win," Johnson said. "If Scott throws well, we’ll have a chance to come away with the win. That’s all you can really ask of your players, to give themselves a chance to win the game."

Against Cheraw, KC scored the most runs which it had registered in its first four outings.

Andrew Ansley got the starting nod and the lefty went the first five frames, giving up four runs on three hits while fanning three batters in a game stopped after seven innings by the 10-run rule. His younger brother Jake worked the sixth before Will Hough pitched a scoreless seventh.

Offensively, Blake Outlaw led the way with a 4-for-5 night, including two home runs. Will Dorton also smacked a home run as the guests received production from throughout the order.

In four games, the 17ers have outscored the opposition by a combined 48-15 count. Johnson said his team’s throwers and batters have been dialed in at this early stage of the season.

"I think that our pitchers have all thrown the ball well. All our pitchers did a good job on the mound in the first week," he said.

"We have also hit the ball real, well. We’re averaging better than 10 runs a game, which isn’t bad."

The one area which has not been as sharp has been KC’s defensive play. Due to rustiness, Johnson said, things have not always clicked with the leather. With Sumter and its penchant for putting pressure on the defense with its array of hit-and-runs and bunting men into scoring position, Johnson said that his team’s Sunday practice would focus on defense.

"Our defense has been a little shaky, at times," he said. "We just need to go out and make more plays. When we practice on Sunday, we will work on our situational defense and on things like bunt situations and coverages."

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