Doing what has started coming naturally, Kershaw County answered a five-run Orangeburg bottom of the second inning by closing Tuesday’s second round state American Legion playoff game on a 13-0 run for a 15-5 victory while taking a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five second round series.
In scoring double-digit runs for the seventh time this season, Post 17 (17-5) collected 15 hits including a pair of two-run home runs courtesy of Wynston Dyer and John Lanier, the latter who hit his second bomb in as many nights.
On the mound, Heath Stokes shrugged off a five-run second to record his fifth win in as many starts. The lefty scattered eight hits --- five of those coming in the second inning --- while fanning and walking two batters in a six-inning, 77-pitch stint.
Bradwin Salmond worked a 1-2-3 seventh in his first mound appearance of the season.
Orangeburg (8-14), meanwhile, used five pitchers to get through this game which limited the number of available arms which Post 4 has for Wednesday’s third game at American Legion Park in Camden.
As opposed to Monday’s opening game in which KC found itself trailing early at home, one night later, the visitors got to Orangeburg starter Hanks Avinger for solo runs in the first two innings to grab a 2-0 lead.
Salmond led off the game with a triple to right center and scored on a wild pitch. An inning later, Dyer drew a one-out walk, went to second on a Sawyer Reeves single and scored on an error off Noah Rabon’s liner to shortstop to make it 2-0.
The guests put six runners on base in the first two frames but were unable to put much distance between themselves and Post 4.
“Early in the game,” said P-17 head coach Stephen Carmon, “we had guys on base and scratched out a few runs. We couldn’t get that one big hit which would have blown it open.
“I knew we were seeing it well and that the hits would come for us.”
Post 4’s answer was to send 13 batters to the plate in a second inning in which, with one gone and Heston Thompson on first, an error on what could have been a double play ground ball kept the inning alive.
When it was all said and done, Orangeburg used five hits, an error and a walk to inflict all its offensive damage on the evening.
“Heath did a good job,” Carmon said of Stokes’ performance. “It was kind of like what always happens in baseball. We should have had a routine double play that we made an error on. Then, they got a bloop hit and a big hit after that ... it was the same old story which always seems to happen in baseball.”
After the second, Carmon met his team outside the dugout for a brief pep talk.
“The momentum kind of turned,” Carmon said of the hosts’ having taken the lead, “so I went a had a little quick talk with our guys before we went to bat in the third inning. I told them to keep on having good at-bats; we were getting guys on base and the hits were going to come.”
The hits came both fast and furious in a third frame which started with Khyree Miller’s double to left. Da’Avion Sumpter put runners on the corners with a single before Jake Laffin’s sacrifice fly to center drove in Miller with the third run while advancing Sumpter to second.
Lanier doubled Sumpter home before Dyer took Avinger deep for a two-run shot to right center to give the guests the lead for keeps at 6-5.
An inning later, an RBI double by Laffin and a two-run Dyer single extended the advantage to 9-5.
KC tacked on another run in the fifth before putting this one out of reach with a four-run sixth which included a Laffin single being followed by Lanier’s second homer in as many nights; this a two-run shot to right center.
Salmond drove in runs 13 and 14 with a single before the 17ers capped the night with an unearned run in the seventh.
Five P-17ers had multi-hit nights with Laffin and Salmond having three each while also driving in two runs apiece.
Dyer had a two-it, four-RBI evening while Lanier had two hits while plating three runs. Sumpter had another two-hit game as the visitors found their groove at the plate.
For a team which was getting one or two players with multiple-hit nights earlier in the season, Carmon said having several players join the party with more than one hit on the night makes for an enjoyable evening in the dugout.
“It sure does look like we’re getting locked in at the plate,” he said. “We are getting hot at the right time.
“John Lanier is seeing the ball well. Jake Laffin is getting locked in. Those two guys are really big for us. If they start seeing the ball better and get hot, we are going to be really strong offensively.”
Winning the series opener at home and grabbing one on the road has been Carmon’s credo since day one this season. Do that and you have a good chance at winning a series. So far, that has played out well in the postseason as the 17ers stand on the brink of advancing to the third round and a possible pairing with Florence beginning next Monday.
“I told them what I’ve been telling them this whole team,” he said of his postgame talk on Tuesday at Mirmow Field. “If we can defend our home field and steal one on the road, we’ll win each series. So far, we’ve taken care of winning on game at home and stealing one on Tuesday.
“That’s been our plan for this series and, hopefully, for the next if we get there.”