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Lunsford, P-17 finish strong in 15-9 win over Hartsville

Posted: June 28, 2011 2:59 p.m.
Updated: June 29, 2011 5:00 a.m.

It could not have been much better of a Monday night for Curtis Johnson.

Johnson, the first-year head coach for the Kershaw County American Legion baseball team, led Post 17 to a 15-9 win over Hartsville. On the same night, Dalzell-Shaw did Johnson and company a favor by laying out Manning-Santee, 15-6. Then, just before the clock struck midnight, South Carolina outlasted Florida, 2-1, in the first game of the best-of-three College World Series.

The Gamecocks’ win aside, Johnson was happy to come out of Monday’s game at Jimmy White Stadium in Kellytown with a three-game lead over Manning-Santee, with as many games remaining to be played, in the battle for second place in League III.

"It was a huge night," said the former USC pitcher of Monday’s results in League III play. "That puts us up three games on Manning-Santee for second with three to go."

Post 17 (12-5) hosted Manning-Santee (9-8) on Tuesday. Having three games to win one should take some of the pressure off KC, but Johnson said his approach would be no different than had his squad needed to win Tuesday’s contest in order to lock down second place behind Sumter (16-1).

"You still want to win ballgames and be playing well going into the playoffs," he said. "What takes the pressure off is having Will Dorton on the mound against Manning. I don’t think that Will has given up an earned run, yet. Having someone like him throwing for you is what takes pressure off your team."

Against Hartsville, the guests trailed, 9-6, after four innings. The 17ers then scored one in the fifth before hanging a three spot in both the sixth and seventh frames to go on top, 13-9.

"It really was a tale of two games," Johnson said. "In the first half of the game, we were sloppy in the field. But we made all the plays out there after that. We played well in the second half of the game."

Hartsville (1-16) helped the guests by committing several errors which helped open the floodgates to the KC comeback.

Grayson King got the starting nod for the 17ers and the righty went the first four innings before giving way to Taylor Lunsford (2-1) in the fifth. Lunsford, who was coming off a strong start against Sumter last Thursday, was lights out Monday. The left-hander worked five innings of no-hit ball while allowing a walk to go along with four strikeouts.

"Taylor Lunsford has become old reliable for us," Johnson said. "He was throwing his fastball, curve and changeup for strikes whenever he wanted to. He just dominated them.

"The thing about Taylor is, when he throws his curveball and changeup for strikes, it makes his fastball look that much quicker."

KC did its damage on 10 hits with seven of those coming off the red-hot bats of Jake Ansley and Blake Outlaw. Ansley went 4-for-5 on the night while Outlaw was 3-for-5 with a double.

"We had better at-bats as the game went on," Johnson said of his team’s offense. "We also put pressure on them when we were on the bases. Hartsville also made a bunch of errors near the end of the game that helped us."

Another positive sign in the order was the bat of Kal Davis. The Camden High graduate had a two-hit night and is starting to drive the ball like he did for the Bulldogs this past spring.

"Kal had some good at-bats. He hit the ball hard every time up," Johnson said. "I was real proud of him."

Keeping POSTed:

Johnson said he was not going to take any chances in trying to nail down second place in League III on Tuesday night against Manning-Santee. Should Dorton (2-0) tire or get into trouble, Scott Baldwin (4-1) will be available to come on in relief … KC will host Cheraw on Thursday at 7 p.m. before closing the League III season with a trip to Riley Park to meet Sumter on Friday night in a 7:30 p.m. start … Not to put the proverbial cart before the horse, but should Post 17 finish second in League III, it will have the home field advantage for the best-of-five first round playoff series with either Hilton Head or Summerville, who both took 7-6 records into Monday’s League 1 contest. The first round opens on Tuesday, July 5 … Should KC finish second, it will be in the same bracket with the survivor of the League I champion vs. League 2 fourth-place finisher. Right now, that series would have Goose Creek as the League I champion facing Lake City … Johnson said the home playoff games will be pushed back 30 minutes to a 7:30 p.m. start to allow visiting fans additional time to come to Camden.

 

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