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17ers deliver knockout blow in 16-1 rout

KC sweeps past Georgetown; Chapin-Newberry is up next

Posted: July 10, 2017 2:25 p.m.
Updated: July 11, 2017 1:00 a.m.
Tom Didato/C-I

KC’S JOSH BOONE DROVE in a run with his fifth inning single in Friday’s 16-1 romp over Georgetown. Post 17 travels to Newberry tonight to meet Chapin-Newberry in game one of the second round best-of-five playoff series.

With a roster filled with first-year players, Kershaw County took a veterans’ approach to Friday’s third game of its best-of-five first round playoff series with Georgetown.

After the locals disposed of Post 114, 18-0, Thursday to take a 2-0 series lead, KC poured it on, again, one night later in moving on to the second round of the Lower State playoffs by pounding Georgetown, 16-1, at American Legion Park.

Post 17 (15-3) will take on 2015 American Legion World Series champion Chapin-Newberry (16-5) in Wednesday’s 7 p.m. series opener at the Smith Road Complex at Newberry College. Game two of the best-of-five series will be in Camden on Thursday with C-N hosting Friday’s third game. Game four, if needed, will be played in Camden on Saturday with a fifth and deciding game, if necessary, being played Sunday in Newberry.

As for Georgetown, KC methodically dissected the third-place finisher from League II. In a brief set, in which the final two games were stopped by the 10-run rule, the 17ers outscored their opponents by a combined 44-6 count. Nearly as impressive was how the hosts took nothing for granted following Thursday’s blowout in Georgetown while keeping their foot on the pedal to win their 11th straight game the next night.

Second-year KC head coach Tyler Pike said it was important to set the tone on Friday, take care of business and give his pitching staff their regular week-long rest between starts as opposed to having the series extended into the weekend.

“Anytime you have a chance to win a game you have to go out and win the game,” he said. “You don’t want to mess around and get yourself in a situation where we had to go back down there and, potentially, get into a tough game and, maybe, lose it and have to come back here for a pressure-packed game on Sunday. 

“It was important that we won it tonight.”

Taking up where it left off Thursday, KC jumped to a 7-0 lead after three innings which was more than enough for starting pitcher Justin Dorton, who improved to 5-0 on the season. 

Dorton went the first five frames, allowing a run on five hits while striking out five and not allowing a walk in an economical 67-pitch outing. Bradwin Salmond came on to start the sixth and fanned six batters in two frames while giving up a hit to go with a walk.

Pike said his team has come to rely on Dorton. Friday’s performance was the latest in a string of steady outings for the left-hander.

“Justin did a good job of throwing his fastball and his curveball for strikes,” Pike said. “He was his normal self tonight; he threw a lot of strikes and let our defense make the plays behind him.”

While the defense did its part --- committing one error on Friday ---, the 17ers’ offense never slowed down in following up Thursday’s 18-hit night with another 15 on Friday. Devin Beckley led the attack going 3-for-3 with a pair of RBI while Jay Lynch, author of Thursday’s shutout on the mound, collected a pair of hits on Friday. In all, 12 KC batters had a hit in the rout in a contest in which Pike went to his bench in the fourth inning.

The hosts got to G’town starter Nick Owens for three runs in the third and four more in the second to begin salting this one away.

The third inning rally started with Dorton getting aboard on a fielders’ choice. After swiping second, Dorton scored from there on Beckley’s two-out, opposite field flare to right. With Beckley on third thanks to a passed ball, Lynch delivered an RBI double to right center. Lynch then went to third after being caught in a rundown on a pickoff play to second. When the throw was wide to the third, Lynch came home with the third run.

An inning later, Salmond led off the fourth by reaching on an error. He scored from first when Noah Rabon lined a single to left and an error on the play --- one of four by the guests --- allowed Rabon to land on second with no outs. A throwing error on Nick Butler’s ground ball put runners on the corners for Chase Galloway who continued his torrid streak at the plate by sending a two-run double to center to make it 6-0. Galloway would come across with the seventh run thanks to Beckley’s two-out single to left.

When the dust had settled, KC scored its four runs on four hits while being helped along by a trio of errors. In the third and fourth innings, P-17 got to the 6-foot-6 Owens for seven runs on as many hits.

In spite of his height, Owens was not a power pitcher; instead, relying on a sneaky breaking ball which KC had seen before.

“We faced him in the preseason tournament (in Florence) so our kids had seen him,” Pike said. “We knew he had a big curveball and likes to throw it a lot. He’s a big kid so a lot of the movement that he gets on his curveball is very vertical. We just told our kids, ‘If you see it down, let it stay down.’ He is going to bury a lot of those pitches.”

Georgetown used a one-out P-17 error to score an unearned run in the fourth to trim the deficit to 7-1.

KC then started putting the finishing touches on this contest by getting to G’town reliever Evan Johnson for seven runs in a fifth inning in which the home team sent 11 batters to the plate.

Johnson walked Dorton, the first batter he faced, to kick-start the surge. A Beckley single to left followed with both runners advancing into scoring position on the throw back to the infield. A Tyler Maxwell sacrifice fly plated Dorton with the eighth run. Josh Boone then sent a liner along with third base line for a run-scoring double to extend the lead to eight runs.

Boone scored on a Salmond single to left before a walk to John Bradley and Christian Flick’s being hit by a pitch loaded the bags with one gone. Bryce Padgett then worked his way for a walk to bring in Salmond while Bradley came home with the 12th run on a wild pitch while Flick came home on a passed ball. Padgett made it 14-1 when he scored on Dorton’s single through the box.

KC tacked on two more in the sixth with Maxwell legging out an infield single before Mikael Nelson lined a single to right. Maxwell ended up scoring on the second of two wild pitches from Johnson with Nelson scoring the 16th run via a passed ball.

Pike lifted Dorton after five in order to give Salmond some time on the mound in case he is needed this week. The P-17 boss said he got what he was looking for in a public bullpen from the hard-throwing right-hander.

“Bradwin pitched a couple times in our last series with Dalzell and it was important to get him out here tonight to get a few innings under his belt to get him ready for (this) week,” he said.

Playing a pair of abbreviated games to close the series helped the locals save some innings and rest some arms. Throughout the past two weeks, Pike has tried to afford his starters shorter outings in order to lessen the strain of innings and pitched on their their arms.

“It was good to save some of our arms and it was also good to give some of our guys who really haven’t pitched a lot this year a chance to see what they can do,” he said. “Now, we’re gearing up for the next round.”

Chapin-Newberry series notes: This marks the second consecutive season in which Post 17 has gone up against Chapin-Newberry in the second round of the Lower State playoffs. Last season, C-N swept KC, 12-3, 9-4 and 13-9, to punch its ticket into the state tournament.

The 17ers, meanwhile, had to sweep Murrells Inlet and Horry County on the same night in Florence to play their way into the state tourney as a wild card. Once in Sumter, KC downed C-N, 9-4, in a Sunday afternoon winners’ bracket game at steamy Riley Park.

* Post 17 and C-N have faced one common  opponent this season in Aiken. KC beat Aiken, 11-3, in a preseason tourney in Florence while Post 193 swept a pair from Aiken in League VIII play, 12-4 and 10-9.

* Post 193 (16-5) won League VIII with an 11-1 record with the lone blemish coming against Lexington, which swept its first round series with Hampton and will take on Sumter in round two. Included in C-N’s 16 wins this season is a 7-5 victory over defending American Legion World Series champion Texarkana, Ark., in the Palmetto Invitational played in Florence last month. In that same event, the Lake Murray-area entry fell to 2016 American Legion World Series runner-up, Rowan County (N.C.), 4-3.

* C-N swept its opening round series with Goose Creek, winning 10-3, 9-3 and 14-4.

* The winner of this series earns a spot in the state American Legion Tournament which opens Saturday, July 22 at Riley Park in Sumter. There will not be a wild card qualifier coming out of the Lower State this year and there may not be a wild card entry at all should tourney host Sumter lose it series with Lexington this week.

Keeping POSTed: Christian Flick returned to the field for the 17ers on Thursday after having missed 13 straight games since injuring his hamstring in a season-opening loss to Sumter. On Friday, the 2016 Camden High grad and Erskine College outfielder was inserted into the game as a pinch-hitter in the fourth inning and played the final three frames in right field. Flick went 1-for-2 with a walk in three plate appearances … In its three-game sweep of Georgetown, KC collected 40 hits while taking advantage of 11 Post 114 errors … In his second season as head coach of the 17ers, Pike has fashioned a 31-13 record with two trips into the second round of the state playoffs. In his first campaign, he and assistant coaches Stephen Carmon and Jack LaFrage helped guide the squad to a program-best second-place finish in the state tournament ... Here is the remainder of the second round playoff series pairings: Lower State (Sumter vs. Lexington; Florence vs. Aiken; Beaufort vs. Horry County); Upper State (Spartanburg vs. Rock Hill; Gaffney vs. Fort Mill; Greenville vs. Inman)

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