Should the Camden baseball team be forced to take to the road for a possible first round AAA state playoff game, the Bulldogs can look back on games like this and find out why they occupied the visiting dugout as opposed to their own digs at American Legion Park.
Getting an out on just one of six A.C. Flora bunts, Denny Beckley’s charges fell to the Falcons, 6-3, in a Monday night make-up game played in Forest Acres.
The loss put the Bulldogs in a second place tie with Chapin in Region 4-AAA at 4-2 with four league games remaining. A.C. Flora, which avenged a 5-2 loss to Camden in a game played last month, returned to the top of the 4-AAA leader board with a 5-1 mark. Richland Northeast sits in fourth with a 3-3 record as those four squads have proverbial "legs up" on the region’s four state playoff berths.
"We just can’t do the little things right," Beckley said of his team’s inability to get outs when the Falcons were trying to give them away. "I’ve done a very poor job of getting our team to improve on our weaknesses. It’s up to me to get our kids focused and getting them to do the little things right.’
In losing for the second straight time in 4-AAA play following a 4-0 start, the Dogs fell behind after the hosts scored three times in the third inning off CHS starter Ross Hough. The inning opened with the Falcons getting a runner on base. A slip and fall by a Bulldog going after and fielding the sacrifice bunt attempt allowed runners to get on first and second with no outs. A second straight bunt was fielded but an error on the throw to first base allowed the game’s first run to cross the plate.
Camden scored one in the fourth when Lawson Stokes cracked a one-out double before being lifted for pinch-runner Connor Morrow who would score on Devin Beckley’s two-out single to left field.
The hosts tacked on a fourth run in the home half of the fourth while chasing Hough from the mound in the process. The senior lefty, who threw 6.1 innings of no-hit ball at Flora in the two sides’ first meeting, left after having allowed four unearned runs on three hits. He was replaced by junior Will Abbott who finished the contest.
A.C. Flora added a pair in the fifth inning to hike its advantage to five runs at 6-1.
Camden scored twice in the sixth with Stokes drawing a leadoff walk before advancing to second on a passed ball. A Hough single put runners on the corners for Devin Beckley whose line drive single to left brought Stokes home. With one gone, Christian Flick doubled to right center field to plate Hough. A walk to Carson Morgan brought about a pitching change with Zach Boykin at the plate. The CHS left fielder cracked a line drive, on an 0-2 count, which was caught by a leaping Flora shortstop for the second out in an inning which ended with Camden trailing, 6-3.
"Zach had a great at-bat," Denny Beckley said of Boykin’s screaming liner in the sixth. "They brought in a sidewinder and Zach put together a great at-bat. It was just unfortunate that their kid made the play on the ball because it looked like we would have scored a run and had the bases loaded with one out and the top of our order coming up."
Camden had seven hits in the loss with Devin Beckley and Flick getting a pair each with Beckley driving in two runs and Flick one.
Denny Beckley said his team needs to make its own luck by doing the little things right, something which A.C. Flora continues to do.
"A.C. Flora did a very good job of executing the little things and playing small-ball," said the CHS head coach. "They did things right and we didn’t."
Following tonight’s non-region game at Hartsville, Camden returns to 4-AAA play at Dreher on Thursday before playing at Richland Northeast next Tuesday and hosting Chapin in next Friday’s home finale. The Bulldogs’ post-season fate and travel or, stay at home, plans are now left hanging in the balance.
"We still control our own destiny, to a certain degree, as far as finishing in second place goes," Beckley said. "We’re going to need some help if we are to achieve our goal of winning the conference.
"Right now, our backs are up against the wall. We’ll see what we are made of from here on out."