Manning-Santee Post 68 is all set to begin its American Legion baseball best-of-3 first-round state playoff series with Lexington Post 7 on Wednesday in Lexington.
Post 68 qualified for the playoffs with a late-season run, winning seven straight …
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Post 68 qualified for the playoffs with a late-season run, winning seven straight games overall, and five straight League I games, to finish the regular season 8-12 overall.
Post 68 is led by first-year Seniors head coach Matt Mays. Mays coached the Manning-Santee Juniors team last year, working with several key members of this year's senior team.
"It feels great to be able to see these kids grow up," Mays said. "Trevin Harrison, Britton Morris, Daniel Gamble...those guys did a lot for us last year on the Junior program and all stepped up this year to be productive on the Senior level. It's good to see these guys grow up and stay in the Manning-Santee system. They've definitely all improved."
Manning is set to take on a Lexington team that stumbled a bit toward the end of the season, losing four straight games -- including a 22-8 blowout loss to Camden -- to fall into third place in League III. The Grizzlies are 8-13 overall and finished 5-7 in league play.
"Anytime someone makes the playoffs, they've done something right," said Mays. "I expect to see a pretty good ball team."
Lexington plays in League III with Camden Post 17, Aiken Post 26 and West Columbia Post 79. Both Camden and Aiken secured first-round byes as the No. 1 and No. 2 teams, respectively.
Lexington and Manning did not play each other this year.
"We don't know much about Lexington," Mays said. "I've done some research, and I know they have a couple good arms, and they play in a pretty good conference."
Manning will counter with their own stable of quality arms with Justin Evans getting the nod to start Game 1, with either Blaine McFaddin or Chandler Evans slated for Game 2.
"Justin has kinda been our go-to guy this year when it comes to our starters," said Mays. "He gets us through five innings most of the time, throws strikes, and when his breaking ball is working, he's pretty good."
Offensively, Mays just wants to see his team come out aggressive from the start. Post 68 relied on timely hitting to win close games during its 7-game winning streak.
"I would like to see us come out the gate swinging and not wait until the last part of the game to try to score runs," said Mays.
Manning came out flat against Florence in its final tuneup of the regular season against Florence, allowing 11 runs in the first two innings, and not scoring until the fourth inning.
"You can't do stuff like that and expect to win against good teams," said Mays.
If Manning is able to win the series against Lexington it will face have Florence Post 1 waiting for it in the second round.
"The way this season has gone, everybody has done something to contribute," said Mays. "Every game someone different steps up. They can all do their job, and I think they all will. Hopefully we can play as a team and have a good series."
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