One team’s punishment became another team’s pain.
After having missed Kershaw County’s 7-6, 13-inning win at Orangeburg on Monday night, Josh Hernandez was relegated to the bench to start Tuesday’s contest between the two teams. His demotion lasted all of one inning.
When Hernandez hit the field, he more than made up for his brief absence. The UNC-Wilmington signee collected two doubles, a pair of singles and reached base all five times while driving home three runs in Post 17’s 1-6 victory over visiting Orangeburg at American Legion Park.
The win gave the 17ers a 5-4 mark in League III play while Post 4 fell to 5-6. The two sides will meet again next Tuesday in Orangeburg. KC will look to notch its fourth in a row tonight when Dalzell-Shaw comes to Camden for a 7:30 p.m. start.
Hernandez was just half of the story on Tuesday. The other and --- more important part of the equation --- was supplied by Bradwin Salmond who all but rescued a beleaguered KC pitching staff by throwing 4 2/3 innings of relief including facing just three batters each in the fourth through seventh frames to pick up his second win in five nights.
Salmond, a rising junior at Lugoff-Elgin, battled cramping in his right leg during the middle innings but still managed to help himself at the plate with three singles and a pair of RBI.
After having sent four pitchers to the mound on Monday night, first-year P-17 head coach Tyler Pike was desperate to get quality innings on Tuesday. Salmond’s stint more than fit that bill.
“He’s been a strike-thrower,” Pike said of Salmond’s performance. “In both of his outings this year, Bradwin’s done a good job of throwing strikes and it’s helped us out. It keeps our defense in the game and the quick innings gets us going.
“He was cramping up a lot tonight. His grandmother actually went and got him a pickle and a Gatorade from the concession stand. We were trying to keep him hydrated and keep him loose. You could tell in the (eighth) inning that he was laboring badly. He actually went an inning longer than I wanted him to go. It was just a gutsy performance.”
For the second time in as many nights, KC fell behind early. After having climbed out of a 5-0 fifth inning deficit on Monday, the 17ers found themselves down, 4-0, after Orangeburg scored a pair in the first inning and one each in the second and third frames off starter Brandon Dow.
Post 4 scored two in the first with two gone and nobody on thanks to a walk and two straight singles, the second off the bat of Seth Chestnut which plated Shane Hanks. Hayden Mott, who singled, came home on Justin Ridgeway’s bases loaded walk.
An inning later, a pair of errors on a pickoff play allowed Jordan Rickenbacker to move from first to third before scoring on Hanks’ sacrifice fly. The guests tacked on a fourth run in a third inning in which Salmond came on for Dow and helped put out the fire as Orangeburg left runners on second and third.
“Brandon threw a lot of pitches last week; we knew that going into this game,” Pike said of the right-hander. “He was actually still feeling a little tight but he said that he could give us a few innings tonight.
“He’s a competitor. He’s another guy who goes out there and doesn’t want to come out of the game. We knew he was on a two to three inning limit and when I went out to get him, he still didn’t want to come out. We knew he had thrown a few too many pitches the past week or so but we wanted to play it safe with him.”
With Salmond steadying the ship, it allowed the P-17 offense a chance to get after Post 4 starter Robert Lewis who walked a two-inning tightrope as the hosts left two runners aboard in both the opening two frames. That all changed in the third.
Nick Butler got things started when he reached on a one-out fielders’ choice. Hernandez, who came into the game for Will Abbott, then drove a towering fly which bounced off the top of the yellow tubing atop the fence in left center for double. One batter later, Salmond went the other way and delivered a two-run single to left. The locals were unable to do any further damage as they left the bags jammed on a night in which they stranded 16.
Two innings later, KC evened things as Hernandez opened the fifth by blistering a double down the left field line. He would score on another opposite field single to left by Salmond who tied things at 4-4 when he scored on Nick Stokes’ liner for a single to left.
Hernandez has now collected four doubles, a triple and two singles in his last two games at American Legion Park. Pike laughed when told he looked like a genius for inserting the A.C. Flora grad into the lineup while giving Abbott, who like Hernandez was part of the South Carolina Select Team, a well-deserved break.
“I told Will (Abbott) when he was in the on-deck circle (in the first inning) that I was going to going to let him get an inning in and an at-bat and then, let him sit down,” Pike said. “Will’s been playing a lot and pitching a lot.
“We put Hernandez in there and he’s done nothing but hit the ball for us all summer. Every time he hits the ball, it’s going somewhere hard and that’s all you can ask for.”
The fifth frame touched off a string of four consecutive two-run innings for the 17ers who went on top for keeps with a pair in the sixth as Brock Robinson, Butler and Hernandez all cracked singles with the third of those plating Robinson to make it 5-4. Butler came across with the sixth run when Christian Flick sent a one-out sacrifice fly to center off Orangeburg reliever Blake Huddleston who came on after Lewis surrendered a fourth consecutive single to Salmond.
An inning later, Cam Holley got aboard on a fielders’ choice. A Robinson single, his second of the night, and a Butler walk filled the bags for Hernandez who made it an 8-4 lead with a two-run single in the hold between third base and shortstop.
Salmond’s four innings of cruising came to an end in the eighth as the right-hander was visibly in distress with his fastball having lost its zip.
Chestnut reached on an error to open the eighth. Consecutive singles from John Connor and Justin Ridgeway loaded the bases with no outs for Robert Kirkland whose double to left drove in two runs while ending Salmond’s mound stint.
T.J. White came on for Salmond and inherited runners on second and third with no outs. A walk and three pop flies later, the Westwood High product walked off the mound with KC holding an 8-6 lead and three Post 4 runners on base.
Needing some insurance, the 17ers hung up a two-spot in the home half of the eighth which opened with Stokes being hit by a pitch before being lifted for pinch-runner John Bailey who took second and third on wild pitches. Holley, who worked Huddleston for a one-out walk, took second on a wild pitch to put runners in scoring position. With two gone, Hernandez hit a hard grounder to third base which went for a two-base error, allowing Bailey and Holley to score the ninth and 10th runs, respectively.
White threw a scoreless ninth to wrap up the victory and pick up his first save of the season.Pike said he never reached for the panic button after his team trailed early for the second time in as many nights. He said he was confident his players would get things together.“It’s nine-inning baseball,” he said. “That’s the great thing about it. Maybe, in high school, you might worry a little bit more because you only play seven innings. This is nine-inning baseball, though. As long as you stick to your guns and to your game plan, it’s all right. That’s what we told these boys; don’t panic, don’t worry and just keep plugging because things will start falling your way. That’s what it did for us tonight.” In Monday’s marathon win, the 17ers received three hits each from Holley and Salmond in the come-from-behind victory. Butler added a triple and drove in three runs.Abbott came on in relief in the 10th inning and threw four innings of two-hit baseball while fanning 10 batters to pick up the victory.Orangeburg left 20 men on base in the loss.Keeping POSTed: KC played the first two games of the week minus the services of Ross Hough, who is on vacation but who may return in time for tonight’s game with Dalzell-Shaw, which is winless in League III. Pike said getting another arm back would be a boon for his tired mound corps. “I have no idea what I’m going to do (tonight),” he said when asked who might toe the rubber this evening. “I’m going to sit down with coach (Stephen) Carmon and Coach (Jack) LaFrage and see what we can figure out because we’re running a little thin on pitching. Ross will be back in town so he is a guy who will probably pitch on Friday. I don’t know if he will start or, come in relief.” … Pike said the game plan coming into the week was to have Salmond get the start on Friday but those plans were out the window with the 17ers’ having to use four pitchers on Monday … In two game, Orangeburg left 29 runners hanging on the base paths … Post 17 collected 14 hits on Tuesday with Hernandez leading the way with four and Salmond next with three. Robinson and Stokes both had two-hit nights … The locals will close out the League III regular season next week with a Tuesday night game in Orangeburg before Manning-Santee comes to town next Thursday. Both are set for 7 p.m. starts.