No matter the outcome, Lugoff-Elgin’s state tournament fate was sealed when Dutch Fork, supposedly, threw together a makeshift lineup out against Ridge View in their Region 4-4A finale.
The DF loss bumped L-E into third place in the conference standings, rendering the Demons’ game at Blythewood virtually meaningless on Monday as the host Bengals completed a 12-0 season in 4-A play with a 9-2 victory over L-E.
At the same time, North Central closed the book on its regular season with a 10-1 non-conference loss to Buford.
As for the Demons, Randy Stokes’ troops trailed 3-0 after one inning before Deion Gridion belted a solo home run in the second for his third hit in six innings. “Deion is really starting to swing the bat well for us,” Stokes said of his junior designated hitter.
L-E closed the gap to 3-2 in the third when Austin Hayes was hit by a pitch and later scored on a Gunner Smith single. BHS would put this one away by scoring three times in both the third and fourth frames.
The Demons may very well be without Hayes and pitcher Taylor Lunsford --- both nursing elbow ailments --- when they open 4A state tournament play at Lexington on Thursday.
“As far as our attitude goes,” Stokes said, “we’re pretty beat up right now. But our kids are still happy to be able to go out and still be playing. After this game last year, we were taking up our uniforms. We still have the opportunity to go out and play some more games; a lot of teams don’t have that opportunity.”
Against Lexington, the Demons will take on the state’s top-ranked 4A team and a squad which started the year ranked 46th in the country. This, Stokes said, is a good opportunity for his young team.
“We know that we are going to be seeing one of the best, if not the best, teams in the state Thursday night,” he said. “I think our kids are going to be excited about playing this game. It will be, kind of, a measuring stick for our program. But it’s baseball and, anything can happen.”
Knights fall to Jackets: Facing a second straight AA entry, North Central was held to six hits in a loss to Buford on Monday in Boonetown.
The guests jumped to a 3-0 lead with a three-run second. The Knights did all their scoring in the bottom half of that inning when Ryan Baker singled home Raijon Jones, who opened the inning with a single.
NC used four pitchers on the night who issued 11 walks while allowing 10 hits.
Offensively, Jones had two singles for the hosts as did teammate Kazuma Miyagawa.
The Knights will begin state tournament play on Thursday, traveling to North Augusta to meet up with Fox Creek. NC head coach Robbie Cash will send his ace, Grayson King, to the mound against the Predators.