SUMTER -- It took 13 innings and a little bit of help from the Sumter P-15’s, but Kershaw County Post 17 got a much-needed win that kept it in position to take second place in American Legion Baseball League III.
KC scored a run in the 13th inning on a dropped fly ball by Sumter to pick up a 4-3 victory on Tuesday at Riley Park.
The win improved Post 17 to 16-7 overall, but more importantly 9-5 in league play. It is now a game ahead of 8-6 Hartsville for second place. The P-15’s, who won the league title on Monday, fell to 12-2 in league play and 19-5 overall.
“I’m as proud as I can be of the way my guys played tonight,” said KC head coach Craig Smith. “Every member of this team helped us win the game tonight. Everyone played accept the guys we weren’t going to pitch, but they were in the game.
“We went out there and competed tonight, and that’s what we try to tell our guys to do. We’re a blue collar team, not a white collar team.”
Sumter relief pitcher Chris Crawford hit Christian Flick with a pitch to start the top of the 13th. He was sacrificed to second before Ethan Beasley flew out for the second out. It looked like Crawford, who had thrown five scoreless innings, would get out of it when Broderick Gaither lifted a fly ball to center field. However, Donnie Brownlee dropped the ball and Flick scored to make it 4-3.
“They made the plays it needed to make tonight and we didn’t,” said Sumter head coach Curtis Johnson. “They made great plays in the field, throwing us out four times at the plate. They played a great game.”
Sumter had four of its 13 at-bats end with runners being thrown out at home plate, including in the bottom of the ninth and 11th innings.
“They had to make perfect throws and they did,” Johnson said. “We’re going to keep on running and make teams make those throws.”
In the bottom of the ninth, Phillip Watcher drew a leadoff walk and was sacrificed to second. Tee Dubose, who was 4-for-4 with three doubles and two walks, was intentionally walked. After Post 17 relief pitcher Tyler Bowers struck out Kemper Patton, Crawford hit a hard hit ground ball up the middle that hit off of Bowers’ foot and shot up in the air. It went to second baseman Bradwin Salmond, who threw to first baseman Gunner Smith. Crawford was safe, but Smith wheeled and threw home to easily get Watcher, who was trying to score from second.
In the 11th, Dubose doubled with two outs and Dante Hartman came in to pinch run for him. Patton singled to left, but Hartman was thrown out by leftfielder Austin Hayes.
Sumter finished with 14 hits. Phillip Watcher, Crawford, Patton and Javon Martin all had two hits.
The P-15’s got consecutive two-out hits from Phillip Watcher and River Soles in the 13th, but Bowers struck out Brandon Spittle on a check swing to end the game.
“We got a lot of hits,” Johnson said. “We just didn’t get many timely hits.” Sumter left 15 runners on base, seven in scoring position, along with the four runners thrown out at home.
KC had eight hits. Bowers, Gunner Smith and Beasley each had two hits each.
Bowers pitched 6 2/3 innings of scoreless relief to get the win. He walked two and struck out five while allowing seven hits.
Crawford allowed four hits in six innings, striking out four and walking none.
KC got out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first. The inning started innocently enough for KC as P-15’s starting pitcher Jacob Watcher retired the first two batters. However, Bowers singled to left and Gunner Smith followed by hitting a ball that caused leftfielder Crawford to run into the outfield wall. It went for an RBI double.
Designated hitter Grayson King followed with an RBI double, as well, to make it 2-0.
The P-15’s missed on a chance for a two-out run of its own in the bottom of the inning. Dubose hit the first of three doubles and Kemper Patton followed with a single. However, Post 17 right fielder Beasley threw Dubose out at the plate.
The P-15’s finally broke through against KC starter Grey Hoke in the fourth, thanks to some help from Post 17.
With one out, Dubose hit a sinking liner down the left field line on which KC’s Gaither made a diving attempt. He couldn’t get it and Dubose had his second double of the game.
Patton reached on an error and Crawford drew a walk to load the bases.
Jacob Watcher followed by hitting one off the end of his bat to Hoke. The throw came home for the force, but home plate umpire Donnie Daniel said Post 17 catcher Hayes didn’t touch the plate, allowing Dubose to score.
Hoke avoided further damage though, striking out Todd Larrimer and getting Martin to pop up.
Sumter tied the game in the sixth. Crawford led off with a single and was sacrificed to second. He stole third with two outs before Martin drew a walk. After Martin stole second, Brownlee hit a grounder that KC second baseman Tyler Bowers fielded behind the bag. Brownlee legged it out for an infield single, allowing Crawford to score, but Martin was thrown out at home.
Post 17 went back on top in the seventh after Gaither reached on a two-base error to open the inning. He scored on a Salmond groundout.
Sumter got the run back in the bottom of the inning. Phillip Watcher led off with a single, was sacrificed to second by Soles and scored on Dubose’s third hit of the night.
That ended the night for Hoke as Bowers came in from second and retired the next two hitters.
Hoke went 6 1/3 innings, scattering seven hits with four walks and four strikeouts. Two of the three runs were earned.
Jacob Watcher went seven innings for Sumter, striking out seven batters, while allowing four hits and giving up three runs.