At this time of year, it is all about peaking and being ready for the state playoffs which begin next week.
One night after having clinched the Region 6-4A baseball title, Lugoff-Elgin stepped out of league play and avenged an earlier loss to visiting Dutch Fork by sending the Silver Foxes home with a 9-1 defeat.
The win was the 16th of the season for the Demons who will try for number 17 tonight when Region 6-4A entry Crestwood comes to town for a 6:30 p.m. start.
L-E, the 6-4A champion, will host either Orangeburg-Wilkinson or, Lower Richland in next Tuesday’s 4A state tourney opener.
Bradwin Salmond became the emergency starter for the hosts on Wednesday and the senior righty worked the first six innings, allowing seven hits while fanning six batters and walking a pair. Senior Hunter Coleman came on to pitch the seventh frame. Offensively, the hosts collected eight hits, led by senior Noah Rabon who went 3-for-3 while driving in three runs.
“We’re doing a lot of good things, right now,” said L-E head coach Randy Stokes of his team’s push toward the postseason. “Confidence is a big thing for us, too.
“Noah Rabon is getting hot at the right time and Zac (Branham) has also been playing well. Bradwin threw the ball well in this game and, that was encouraging.”
The Silver Foxes, who can finish anywhere from second to fifth in Region 5-5A, used five pitchers on Wednesday.
“Dutch Fork is a very good baseball team,” Stokes said following the one-sided victory. “They threw a lot of pitchers at us as they try and get ready for the playoffs, too.”
The Demons answered a second inning DF run with one in their half of the inning which led to eight more unanswered runs.
Rabon led off the second with a single to right, stole second and scored on a wild pitch.
L-E added a pair in the third which opened with a Branham single to center. He scored on Salmond’s one-out ground out. Jake Laffin kept the inning going when he lined a two-out double to left and then came in on a Rabon single to left for a 3-1 lead.
The hosts blew this one open by hanging up a five-spot in the fifth.
A Branham double to left was followed by Justin Dorton being hit by a pitch. A Laffin walk loaded the bases for Rabon, whose single drove in Branham and Dorton. A two-run Josh Boone triple made it 7-1 before Boone came in on a J.C. Legrand ground out.
L-E tacked on a ninth run in the sixth when Nick DiLauro walked and later scored on a wild pitch.
In addition to Rabon’s three hits, Branham added a pair while Boone drove in two runs in the win.
Stokes said there was plenty to like about his team’s performance.
“I thought we competed. We had some big hits and that led to a lot of excitement in our dugout,” he said. “That’s key for us, right now.”
Stokes said all signs point toward the Demons making an extended postseason run.
“I told our kids last week that we haven’t played our best baseball, yet,” he said. “We are also playing good defense lately which is a key when you get into the playoffs. We tell our guys that, in the playoffs, the team that makes the most mistakes is the team that gets beat.”