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Walk-off walk gives Florence 4-3 win in opening game
whisper web
POST 17 HEAD COACH Stephen Carmon uses a trip to the mound by Florence to whisper instructions to Da' Avion Sumpter. - photo by Tom Didato

A ball lost in the lights which led to half of Florence’s runs and a bases-loaded, two-out walk-off walk proved to be Kershaw County’s downfall in Monday’s 4-3 loss to host Florence in the opening game of their best-of-five third round state American Legion tournament.

While the visitors may not have gift wrapped this one for Post 1, they provided more than a helping hand along the way.

In addition to putting itself in an 0-1 hole heading into Wednesday’s game in Camden, the setback also brought an end to Justin Dorton’s perfect ways since joining Post 17 three seasons ago. The lefty, who worked the first 6.1 innings before giving way to Alex Canino, suffered his first loss in 21 decisions in a KC uniform as his record went to 7-1 on the season.

The visitors got to Post 1 starter Anthony Hopkins for a solo run in the top of the first as Bradwin Salmond opened the game with a single before stealing second. After moving to third on an error, Salmond scored on Jake Laffin’s two-out single to left.

After Florence evened things at 1-1 with a run in the fourth, the 17ers got to Hopkins for a run in the fifth with Noah Rabon getting aboard with a leadoff single. With Rabon on third and Salmond on first, Salmond took a lead off first which got Hopkins’ attention. As Hopkins made the move to first base, Rabon bolted for and stole home for what proved to be a short-lived 2-1 lead.

The hosts hung up a pair in their half of the fifth as with runners on second and third with two outs, Noah Carter’s fly ball to center was lost in the lights, allowing the tying and go-ahead runs to score.

Trailing, 3-2, heading into the seventh, Wynston Dyer opened the final frame by sending Hopkins’ second pitch to center field for his fourth home run of the season which knotted things at 3-3 while bringing Austin Windham to the mound in relief.

Brady White followed by drawing a walk only for Windham to grab a pop fly bunt attempt for the first out as the runner held at first. An error on Salmond’s grounder to second put runners on first and second with one out only for Windham to get a fly out to right and one to catcher Jameson Purvis to leave the runners hanging.

Dorton, who gave up five hits while fanning and walking two and hitting a pair of batters, started the seventh and quickly retired the first batter only for James Weatherford to reach on an error. A Cameron Galloway single to center kept things going before Carter ended Dorton’s night as he was hit by a pitch to load the bags for D.P. Pendergrass whose liner to center was caught by Salmond while not allowing the runners to tag up. Johnson Hardee then watched three straight balls before walking on a 3-1 pitch to bring the game to a close.

The two sides had five hits each with Laffin being the only player with two hits.