There is no secret that how well the Camden baseball team hits this season will go a long way toward determining their final record and post-season fate.
For the third straight game, the Bulldog arms came to the front as senior Will Abbott fanned nine batters while allowing four hits in a complete game effort in Camden’s 4-1 win over Marlboro County last Friday.
The win capped a 3-1 week for Denny Beckley’s squad in the Pee Dee Invitational Preseason Tournament.
Abbott’s performance, which also included his towering solo home run to left center field in the seventh, came on the heels of Devin Beckley and William Cobb’s combined one-hitter in a win over West Florence. Earlier, senior Brandon Dow worked five scoreless innings of relief in the victory against Darlington.
The lone smudge on the Dogs’ ledger was a tourney-opening 6-0 loss to McBee in a game in which Camden struck out 14 times before righting the ship.
“We are still striking out way too many times but we’re getting better there,” said CHS head coach Denny Beckley.
“Obviously, the strength of our team is pitching so our situational hitting is going to be a big part in our being successful this season.”
The Dogs staked Abbott to a 1-0 lead with a run in the top of the first which opened with a Nick Butler single. After taking second on an errant pickoff attempt, Butler scored from third on a Cobb sacrifice fly to right.
CHS tacked on two more runs in the fifth to go up, 3-0.
Once again, Butler was in the middle of things as he drew a leadoff walk before moving to second on a Christian Flick sacrifice bunt. Cobb then reached on a fielders’ choice to put runners on the corners with one out before Cobb took second on a passed ball. A Devin Beckley fly ball to right field, which was dropped for an error, allowed Butler to score before Campbell Jordan’s sacrifice fly to right plated Cobb for a 3-0 lead.
After Marlboro County scratched across its lone run in the sixth, Abbot drilled his one-out solo blast to give himself a three-run cushion.
Demons win pair: After having opened last week’s Carolina Ale House Baseball Classic with back-to-back losses, Lugoff-Elgin started putting things together to close the tournament with consecutive wins Friday and Saturday.
The Demons picked up their first victory by knocking off Dreher, 4-2, on Friday. The next afternoon, Randy Stokes and company started seven sophomores in taking down Irmo, 6-2.
With so many new faces in the dugout, Stokes said he used the tourney to evaluate his team’s talent.
“We got a good look at everybody we have. Going into the tournament, we said that we were going to give all our players long looks,” Stokes said following Saturday’s contest. “We had guys who were able to log innings on the mound and we gave everybody a chance to hit. A lot of our guys had good weeks.”
On Friday, junior Elliott Campbell made his first start and the 6-foot-6 righty worked the first five frames, allowing one hit while fanning four and not issuing a walk. Senior Brock Robinson earned the two-inning save.
Robinson was selected to the Carolina Ale House Classic after going six-for-14 at the plate with a save.
Campbell was staked to a 1-0 lead in the top of the third when the Demons used a Jay Lynch single with Lynch later scoring on a Robinson single.
Two innings later, L-E tacked on another run as J.C. LeGrand was hit by a pitch and would make it 2-0 when he came in on Zack Branham’s run-scoring single. The Demons made it 4-0 by scoring two more runs in the sixth which opened with a Chase Roberts single and stole base. An error on a Chase Galloway grounder temporarily put runners on the corners as courtesy runner Deontae Hudson promptly stole second base.
Roberts came in with the third run on a Josh Ayer sac fly to center while Garrett Cassidy made it 4-0 when his single to center plated Hudson.
Dreher would cut the lead in half with two runs in the bottom of the sixth but would get no closer.
Branham led the Demon offense with a pair of hits.
Saturday, the Demons took control of things with a five-run top of the fourth to grab a 6-0 lead over Irmo.
The Demons scored the game’s first run in the second as Ayers rapped a single and came home on a Robinson base hit. Two innings later, L-E had its best fame of the tournament.
Lynch led the fourth off with a double which was followed by a LeGrand infield single. Robinson’s double knocked in Lynch with the second run before Branham lined a two-run double to make it 4-0. Bradwin Salmond’s single to right drove Branham home while Salmond later scored on Galloway’s two-out single.
Sophomore lefty Justin Dorton got the start for L-E and worked four innings of one-hit ball. He was relieved by classmate Hudson Coleman who was credited with the three-inning save. The pair combined to allow two hits.
The Demons had their best offensive game of the tourney with John Bradley, Robinson, Galloway and Lynch collecting two hits apiece in the 13-hit attack.
Knights take MCCU Baseball Bash: Chase Stephens was strong at the plate and on the mound in carrying North Central to a 5-2 victory over Westminster Catawba Christian on a rainy Thursday to win the Mid-Carolina Credit Union Baseball Bash in Boonetown.
Stephens racked up three RBI on a second inning double which gave the event hosts a 4-0 lead in the three and a half inning contest.
Pitching-wise, Stephens was sharp as WCC managed just two hits off of the Knight right-hander who walked two and struck out seven batters before giving way to Tyler Bowers who came on with one gone in the fourth and fanned two while walking a pair of batters.
NC got to WCC starter Cole Bagley for four runs in the second. Tyler Faulkenberry opened things by reaching on an error and was bunted to second by Zac Campbell. Austin Bowers then got aboard on an error before Stephen Barrett’s single plated Faulkenberry to make it 1-0. After Tyler Bowers drew a walk, Stephens unloaded on his double to left center to drive in three runs.
A two-run third inning helped bring the guests within two but NC tacked on a fourth run in the bottom of the third as Keaton Gardner reached on an error and later scored on an Austin Bowers single.
NC head coach Robbie Cash hopes his team will build on their 4-0 tourney finish as the regular season opens this week.
“It was a good week for us,” he said. “We played a lot of guys; some who were playing in their first varsity game. We saw things we have to work on but we also did a lot of good things, too. I’m proud of all of our guys.”