Everyone knows what they say about payback. No team is finding that out better than the Camden High baseball squad.
The Bulldogs opened their Region 4-AAA season with four straight wins, claiming victories over A.C. Flora and Richland Northeast in that span. Things have changed in the second go-through of conference play. CHS fell to A.C. Flora last week, 6-3. On Tuesday, RNE exacted its revenge with a come-from-behind 6-5 win over Camden.
With two region games left, including Thursday’s contest at Dreher and tonight’s regular season home finale with Chapin, Denny Beckley’s troops find themselves in third place with a 5-3 mark, a half-game behind Chapin, which is 6-3. A.C. Flora (9-1) won the championship with a 3-0 win over Lower Richland on Tuesday.Deletebodycopy
(Note: Tonight’s game with Chapin at American Legion Park in Camden has been pushed back to a 7 p.m. start due to a bus-scheduling issue at Chapin.)
Camden’s playoff landing spots are still up in the air. With wins over Dreher and Chapin, the Dogs will finish second and open the post-season at home. A split of the two games will leave the Bulldogs in third place while two losses will have CHS finishing fourth and opening the state tourney with a probable trip to Belton-Honea Path to meet the top-ranked team in AAA.
The Cavaliers avenged an earlier 5-4 loss to Camden in which the Dogs did all their scoring over the final three frames in climbing from a 3-0 hole on that night at American Legion Park. RNE returned the favor on Tuesday, scoring four times in the bottom of the fifth to rally from a 5-2 deficit.
Beckley said the contest was one which should get his team prepared for tonight’s game with Chapin and, beyond. "It was a playoff-type atmosphere and it was a very emotional game," he said.
The Dogs jumped to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first as Cole Irick led the game off with a single and would later score on a Ross Hough two-out infield single to second base.
RNE countered by scoring twice in the home half of the first to grab a 2-1 advantage.
Camden scored a pair of runs each in the third and fourth frames to go on top, 5-1.
In the third, Carson Morgan continued his hot ways with the bats and would get things going with a leadoff double off RNE starter Noah Crumlich (4-0). After taking third on an errant pickoff attempt, Morgan scored the tying run on Zach Boykin’s RBI single. Boykin, who went to second on Irick’s sacrifice bunt, scored on a Lawson Stokes single to make it 3-2.
The guests padded their lead to 5-2 by scoring a pair in the fourth.
Will Abbott, who came to the mound in relief of starter Ross Hough with two outs in the second, led the fourth off with a double before being lifted for courtesy runner Connor Morrow. Morgan plated Morrow from third with a line drive single down the third base line. After moving to second on a hit and run single off the bat of Boykin, Morgan made it 5-2 when he came across on a Tyler Jordan single.
Camden saw its lead and its hold on second place fizzle when RNE scored four runs in the home portion of the fifth which included one of several controversial calls when a Cavalier base runner coming to the plate did not slide. Beckley argued the rule book call to no avail as the play stood.
With the one-run lead, RNE went to senior Jake Mueller, who was coming off a perfect game against Dreher one week earlier. The right-hander got out of a sixth inning jam in which CHS had runners on first and second with no outs but could not score before working a second scoreless frame in the seventh to earn the save as the hosts improved to 5-4 in league play with a game left tonight at Lower Richland.
"We messed it up," Beckley said following the one-run setback. "It was a typical game for us this year where we didn’t do some little things right and we ended up losing the game because of it."
Offensively, Camden collected 11 hits with Irick, Abbott, Morgan and Boykin each have two-hit nights. Abbott came in relief and threw 4.1 innings in which he allowed three hits while both striking out and walking three batters. All four runs which he surrendered were unearned.
Beckley said in spite of the defeat, there were some positives which the Dogs could take from this game.
"We were swinging the bats well against very quality pitching," he said. "We also were three-for-three on our sacrifice bunt attempts. Will Abbott also matured as a pitcher. He threw the ball very well in relief and gave us a chance to win the game. And, the mistakes we made were physical, which is part of the game, as opposed to making mental mistakes."
The Bulldog boss said this night did not change what his team has to do from here on out starting in order to try to claim second place and get at least one home playoff game.
"Despite losing, we are showing signs of improvement. But there were also some negatives," Beckley said. "We walked way too many batters (eight) and we didn’t make the plays at crucial times.
"We just have to go out and keep improving every day. We’re making strides in the right direction as we try and peak at the right time."