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Sumter pins another 4-3 loss on 17ers
TYLER PIKE AND POST 17 will host Orangeburg tonight in a key League III game at American Legion Park in Camden. - photo by Tom Didato/C-I photo

17ers snap skid with non-league win

Post 17 washed away some of the bad tasted left in its mouth from three straight losses to Sumter by stepping out of League III play and handing visiting Shelby (N.C.) a 6-2 loss in a hastily arranged seven-inning game played last Friday night at American Legion Park.

The victory gave the locals a 4-4 overall ledger, while snapping a three-game skid, heading into Monday’s League III pairing in Orangeburg. 

Bradwin Salmond gave a beleaguered Kershaw County pitching staff a much-needed boost when the right-hander threw six innings of seven-hit ball against the visitors. A rising junior at Lugoff-Elgin, Salmond fanned four batters while allowing one walk.

Christian Flick paced the 17ers at the plate as he went 2-for-3 with a double while driving in two runs. Williams Cobb enjoyed a 2-for-4 night with an RBI while scoring a run.

Nick Stokes drew three walks for the hosts and scored a run in the win.

Post 17 returns to American Legion Park in Camden tonight to take on Orangeburg in the second game of the three-game set. KC will stay at home on Friday to host Dalzell-Shaw in a 7:30 p.m. make-up game before traveling to Orangeburg on Tuesday, June 28. The regular season finale for the 17ers will be on Thursday, June 30 when Manning-Santee comes to American Legion Park for a 7 p.m. contest.

After getting just six hits in a 4-3 victory over Kershaw County Post 17 on Tuesday in Camden, the Sumter P-15’s managed just four hits on Thursday at Riley Park.

The results were still the same though as Sumter came away with another 4-3 victory over visiting Kershaw County to finish its American Legion baseball League III schedule with a perfect 12-0 record.

“That was another really tough game for us,” said P-15’s head coach Steve Campbell, whose team is now 14-1 overall. “It’s like I told our guys after the game though; good teams find ways to win games like that.”

One reason Sumter was able to do so was because three of its four hits were run-scoring, two-out singles. Two of them came off the bat of Caleb Larrimore and the other came from Dawson Price.

The win gave Sumter a sweep of the three-game series which sent Post 17 to 3-4 on the season heading into this week’s trio of game including a pair with Orangeburg which will be in Camden tonight in a 7 p.m. start.

“The little things are beating us up,” said first-year KC head coach Tyler Pike who only had 10 available players when the game started. “We are making it hard on ourselves. Sumter did not make any errors and they only walked a few batters.”

While Sumter has been able to win the close games, the lack of offensive punch is a concern for Campbell.

“We’ve got to find a way to get our bats going,” Campbell said. “We’ve been working at it hard every day. We’ve just got to keep working and find what it is we can do to come out of it.”

Sumter jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Ryan Moore reached on a two-base throwing error to start the inning. He scored on a two-out single by Dawson Price.

KC tied the game in the third. John Bailey singled with one out, moved to second a wild pitch and scored on a two-out single back up the middle by Nick Butler.

The P-15’s went back in front in the bottom of the inning. 

Tradd James drew a leadoff walk from Post 17 right-handed starting pitcher Brandon Dow and was sacrificed to second by Moore. He scored on a high two-hop single over the head of second baseman Cam Holley which came off the bat of Caleb Larrimore.

Sumter added another run in the fourth as Dow lost his control. After retiring the first two batters, Dow walked three straight batters before being relieved by righty Nick Stokes. He promptly walked Larrimore to bring home Edward McMillan to make it 3-1.

“Dow threw well early in the game. He was cruising and then struggled in the fourth,” Stokes said of the right-hander.

Stokes, who nearly did not play on Thursday due to a nagging back, left in the sixth with what Pike termed, “arm discomfort.”

The P-15’s pushed the lead to 4-1 in the sixth off of left-handed submarine reliever Ross Hough. Courtland Howard drew a leadoff walk and was sacrificed to second by James. Howard moved to third on an infield out before scoring on a two-out single by Larrimore.

KC scored twice in the seventh to chase Price from the game in what was a very odd inning. 

William Cobb led off with a walk and Christian Flick followed with a single back up the middle. Hough followed with a fly ball to left-center that neither center fielder Howard nor right fielder Larrimore chose to catch. It fell in for a single and Cobb tried to score from second. However, a relay from Larrimore to second baseman James to catcher Reese Hankins got Cobb at the plate on a call by the home plate umpire which was disputed by both P-17 third base coach Stephen Carmon and Pike.

With runners on the corners and two outs, Hough got himself in a rundown between first and second and Flick was able to steal home to make it 4-2. Price then balked Hough to third and home to make it 4-3.

Price was relieved with runners on first and second when Ryan Touchberry came on in relief. Touchberry retired Butler to end the seventh and pitched two scoreless innings to get the save.

“Dawson did a good job most of the night,” Campbell said. “He had some problems there, but Ryan came in and got the out and got us out of the inning and got the save.”

Price worked 6 2/3 innings, striking out four and walking four while allowing six hits.

Touchberry had just one runner reach as Hough drew a one-out walk in the ninth. A ground out by Devin Beckley moved pinch runner Josh Boone to second but Boone was thrown out trying to steal third by catcher Hankins to end the game.

Hough was the only Post 17 player with two hits, including a booming double to the warning track in left center. He was 2-for-3 with a run scored.

Hough also worked the final three innings for the 17ers. He struck out two, walked one and allowed two hits.

Hough, who threw three innings in relief of Beckley on Tuesday night, gave another warrior-like effort for the 17ers both on the mound, in the field and at the plate.

For someone who did not swing the bat while redshirting this past spring at Erskine College, Hough is hitting his stride in all phases of the game.

“Ross started off a little rusty, as you can imagine from not having swung the bat in a game in almost a year,” Pike said of Hough who had three hits on Tuesday. “He’s really swinging the bat well, now.

“There was a play (on Thursday) where they had a man on third and they tried a safety squeeze but the runner on third broke for the plate. Ross picked the ball up and flipped it with his glove to the plate and get the runner at home.

“Ross is a baseball player. He’s a tough kid to get out and he is tough kid to get a hit off of. He always finds a way to stay competitive. Ross is just tough.”

While saying any loss is a tough one, Pike said consecutive one-run defeats to Sumter stings more than some others, especially on a night like Thursday.

“Energy-wise,” he said, “this was one of our better games this year. Every one of our kids was keyed up and ready to go. But the little things ended up beating us up, again.”

KC’s three-game set with Orangeburg was scheduled to open on Monday before coming to Camden tonight. The third game in the series will be played in Camden on Thursday, June 30, the final League III contest.This Friday, the locals will host Dalzell-Shaw in a 7:30 p.m. make-up game at American Legion Park in Camden.

Orangeburg will come into the week sitting second in League III with a 5-4 record following Thursday's 1-0 win over Manning Santee (2-5). Pike said this will be a key series as his team looks to finish second in the circuit and enhance their post-season seeding. The big thing, he said, is to flush the past two tough setbacks against Sumter.

“I think that we’re just now starting to learn how to play together here as a team,” Pike said. “Now that we’re just getting things going, though, the (regular) season is almost over. When you only play 12 league games, it’s tough to get momentum going.

“We have a big week ahead of us (this) week. We have to get back to work and put the Sumter thing behind us. Against Orangeburg, we have to limit our errors and not walk so many people if we are going to beat these guys.”

Keeping POSTed: With only 10 available players for Thursday, Pike said he was concerned that the 17ers might have had to forfeit. Three players --- Will Abbott, Brock Robinson and Josh Hernandez --- played in Thursday’s South Carolina vs. North Carolina Select Team doubleheader in Cary, N.C., with Abbott returning to the 17ers midway in Thursday’s game ...  KC’s walking wounded added another player to their ranks. With two players --- T.J. White and Josh Boone --- still working back from injuries, a third player went down when pitcher Parker Gogan injured his thumb during Wednesday's practice ... Pike said had KC been leading going into the ninth inning, he was going to bring in Abbott, who did not pitch in either game in North Carolina to close. Pike listed all three all-star players on his lineup card but highlighted them in gray, in case either or all of them showed up at Riley Park. When Abbott arrived in the dugout, Pike reported to the home plate umpire that Abbott was eligible to play since his name was listed on the roster. When Pike informed Campbell as to Abbott’s availability, Campbell voiced his opposition and said Abbott should not have been allowed to play. It was a moot point, however, as Abbott never found his way into the game ... As for the S.C. Select team, which dropped both ends of a twinbill at the Team USA Training Complex located in the Raleigh suburbs, Hernandez earned the most valuable player honor for the Sandlappers as he belted a home run and a double off the wall in left in what may well be the final game of the nine-year series between the two neighboring states as the South Carolina Baseball Coaches Association is looking at a complete overhaul of the post-season all-star games, including moving the date up to the final week of the school year along with a possible change in the site of the games.

(C-I sports editor Tom Didato also contributed to this story.)