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Error-prone P-17 lets one slip away

C-N makes most of five KC errors to take series opener

Posted: July 13, 2017 11:14 a.m.
Updated: July 14, 2017 1:00 a.m.
Tom Didato/C-I

POST 17’S CAM HOLLEY heads into third base on a Justin Dorton single in the third inning of Wednesday’s loss to Chapin-Newberry.

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NEWBERRY – Not even the best pitching can overcome an abundance of mistakes made in the field. And quality opponents make people pay for those miscues.

Chapin-Newberry did just that, taking advantage of five Kershaw County errors to score seven unearned runs in upending Post 17, 8-4, in Wednesday’s opening game of the second round state American Legion playoff series.

The setback snapped an 11-game win streak for the visitors who fell to 15-4 on the season.

Game two in the best-of-five set was scheduled for Thursday night in Camden with game three set for 7 p.m. tonight at Smith Street Field on the Newberry College campus. Games four and five, if necessary, will be played in Camden and Newberry on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. As of press time Thursday, Saturday’s game, if needed, will be played between noon to 2 p.m. while nothing had been decided as to a possible Sunday start time.

The visitors from Post 17 got off to a quick start, jumping to a 3-0 lead after three innings against C-N (17-5) starter Jordan Beatson before the hosts scored two runs (one earned) in the fourth before posting a six-spot an inning later, taking advantage of three KC errors in the process.

KC picked the worst time to have its worst defensive showing of the season said second-year head coach Tyler Pike.

“I’ll have to look back at the book,” Pike said after meeting with his team in left field, “but I think they only had one earned run. That’s a killer.

“You look at this game; we jumped out to a 3-0 lead and then, they score eight straight runs. That’s rough. That’s really, really rough when you do that against any team, I don’t care if it’s Chapin-Newberry or, anybody else we play. When you do that, it’s pretty hard to win the game.”

Beatson, a 6-foot-1 right-hander, fed the P-17 batters a steady diet of sliders which made his fastball look that much quicker. He worked the first eight frames, allowing three runs on eight hits. He fanned 10 --- eight looking --- while not issuing a walk.

Pike complimented Beatson on his effort but said his team’s offense went down on too many called third strikes for his taste.

“He was around the zone the whole game,” Pike said of the Post 193/24 ace. “He was throwing strikes and we had a couple strikeouts where we went down looking, which we can’t have. We need to put the bat on the ball, put it in play and make something happen.”

KC started Jay Lynch while bumping regular series-opening starter Devin Beckley to Thursday. Lynch was victimized by the fifth inning errors and some close pitches which did not go his way. He was lifted with the bases filled with two gone in the fifth as Mikael Nelson halted further damage by getting Robert King, the 10th batter of the inning, looking.

Lynch scattered seven hits while fanning three and issuing three walks in suffering his second loss in seven decisions this summer. He threw a season-high 108 pitches before leaving the mound. 

The 17ers came out swinging against Beatson scoring once in the first as Noah Rabon sent a one-out double to left center and scored from second on Nick Butler’s single though the box. Beatson got out of further trouble with a strikeout with runners on the corners.

Two innings later, the guests pushed across two runs with Rabon getting aboard on a fielders’ choice. With two gone, Chase Galloway took a slider the opposite way, depositing it into the gap in right center for an RBI double. Galloway advanced to third on an error before scoring when Justin Dorton lined a single to right to give the 17ers a 3-0 advantage.

“We were hitting (Beatson),” Pike said. “He was throwing a lot of strikes and strikes are the pitches that we want to hit.”

Beatson would get into a groove after that as he fanned two batters each in the fourth through sixth innings.

Meanwhile, after a slow start, the hosts’ bats got busy in the fourth as Chandler Todd’s booming one-out double to center was followed by Andrew Livingston legging out a triple to left center. Livingston made it a 3-2 game, scoring on a two-out error.

Having sent nine batters plateward in the fourth, C-N cashed in on its chances in the fateful six-run fifth.

A King walk started the rally. After being bunted over to second, former Clemson commit Ward Hacklen lofted a one-out, two-strike RBI single which nicked the glove of leaping KC shortstop Bradwin Salmond. A mental mistake on Todd’s ground ball put runners on first and second, still with one gone. Livingston then hit a ground ball but the throw to try and get King at the plate was wild as Hacklen advanced to third while Todd took second as the game was deadlocked at 3-3.

Livingston then hit a ground ball to Salmond whose throw to try and get Hacklen at third was late as the bases were loaded for Taylor Wiggins, who worked his way for a walk to bring in the fourth run. Trey Kinard’s two-out, two-strike single drove Todd home while Livingston made it a 6-3 game when he scored on a passed ball. A softly hit Price Alexander single to center brought runs seven and eight across as the 17ers saw their once three-run advantage turn into a five-run deficit.

Alexander was the final batter Lynch faced before Nelson came on. The righty fanned King to stop the bleeding and worked a scoreless sixth, getting a pair of strikeouts to sandwich a fly ball to strand runners on second and third.

During the top of the fifth, Lynch did not get a pair of borderline calls with two strikes on both Hacklen and Kinard, each of whom delivered singles to extend the innings. Pike refused to use those as a crutch.

“It was pretty tough but that’s baseball. We always tell these boys and, they know this, umpires are never going to be a reason why we lose a game. That is not going to be an excuse on anything that we say or do over here,” he said. 

“There were a couple plays that could have gone either way but they didn’t go our way tonight. That’s just baseball. Those things happen and that’s how the pieces fell.”

KC looked to have something cooking in the seventh after a Brady White single and Josh Boone’s double to left center put runners on second and third with no outs. Beatson, however, was more than up to the task as he got a controversial strikeout and two fly balls to center to end the threat and the inning.

At the end of the top of the seventh, Pike and third base coach Stephen Carmon approached the home plate umpire to calmly ask for a clarification on the called third strike pitch. They were told the chest-high fastball was a “college strike.”

The 17ers scored an unearned run of their own off reliever Logan Folk in a ninth inning which opened with Devin Beckley getting on with an error before White worked his way aboard with a walk before being lifted for pinch-runner John Bradley. A wild pitch allowed both runners to advance into scoring position with Beckley making it an 8-4 game, scoring on Salmond’s one-out ground out.

Not to be lost in the defeat were the efforts of KC relievers Nelson and Chase Stephens, who fed the hosts a steady diet of off-speed pitches. Nelson allowed a hit while striking out three batters in an inning and a third of work. Stephens, who pitched the seventh and eighth, gave up a hit while fanning two batters in working two scoreless frames.

“We did a good job throwing strikes and giving them a lot of off-speed stuff,” Pike said of the stints turned in by Nelson and Stephens. “They came in and did their jobs like they’re supposed to do. As relief pitchers, we rely on them to come in and throw strikes.”

C-N, the 2015 American Legion World Series champion, had nine hits to KC’s eight, with those eight hits coming from eight different players. The hosts were not exactly clean in the field by committing three errors.

For one of the few times this season, Post 17 had more strikeouts than hits. Those numbers have to be reversed moving forward, Pike said. In the same breath, he was not ready to push the panic button after one game.

“We just have to keep swinging, that’s the bottom line,” he said of his offense. “If we keep swinging the bats, something good is going to happen. There’s no magic formula or science to it. We just have to keep swinging, keep throwing strikes and keep playing good defense. That’s all we can do.”

Keeping POSTed: A solid following of Post 17 fans made the trip to Newberry as a large crowd was on hand for the fifth meeting in a calendar year between the two sides. C-N has won four of those games … Once again, Newberry College’s Smith Street Field was unkind to Pike and assistant coach Jack LaFrage who are 0-3 in the visiting dugout at the park following two second round state playoff losses in 2016 which came after they were members of Camden High’s 2009 baseball team which fell to Belton-Honea Path in the AAA championship game played on the field … The Chapin-Newberry in C-N’s name is a bit misleading as only four of the Post 193/24 players hail from Chapin and Newberry with each high school being represented by a pair of players each on the 18-player roster. Seven C-N players hail from Dutch Fork High and five are from Mid-Carolina.

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