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P-15's, Dalzell face off in playoffs on Monday

By DENNIS BRUNSON
dennis@theitem.com
Posted 8/1/20

In the age of the coronavirus pandemic, the independent South Carolina American League is having teams from the same league play each other in the opening round of its state playoffs to limit travel and perhaps cut back on the spreading of the …

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P-15's, Dalzell face off in playoffs on Monday

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In the age of the coronavirus pandemic, the independent South Carolina American League is having teams from the same league play each other in the opening round of its state playoffs to limit travel and perhaps cut back on the spreading of the virus. Thus, you have Lower State League champion Sumter taking on the No. 4 seed Dalzell-Shaw Jets beginning on Monday in a best-of-3 series.

The P-15's are 12-5 on the season and went 7-2 in league play. Dalzell is only 3-12 and finished 1-8 in league play. However, that one victory came against Sumter, 4-3 in eight innings at Riley Park. And the first of the three games between the two teams also went to extra innings, the P-15's winning 7-5 in nine innings at Thomas Sumter Academy's General Field in Dalzell.

Even though the deciding game ended up being a 17-4, 5-inning win for Sumter, the Jets led 4-2 after three innings before the P-15's had a 13-run fourth inning.

Because of all of that, no one is paying attention to the other games the teams have played.

"If you think we're going to roll in there, throw our gloves on the ground and win, then you're wrong," said Sumter head coach Robby Coker. "Dalzell is coming to play. They're coming after Sumter."

Dalzell head coach Layton Watts doesn't' think his team will be intimidated when it takes the field for Game 1 on Monday beginning at 7 p.m.

"After playing them the first go-round, I think we established that we can play with them," Watts said. "I feel like we have a pretty good chance.

"I'm looking forward to another battle. The way we stuck with them last time, I think they'll have that on their minds as well."

Cody Windham, whom Coker said will start the opening game for the P-15's, admitted that will be the case, thinking he and his teammates underestimated the Jets.

"We're going to treat this like we're playing Florence," Windham said. Sumter swept a 3-game series from Post 1 to win the league title and has won four of the five meetings.

"I think the first couple of times we played them we didn't take it as serious as we should have," Windham added. "I think Dalzell is a better team than everybody thought they were. They've been down the last couple of years, but they are a better team than people give them credit for."

Dalzell will counter with Shane Gaymon on the mound. He was the starting pitcher in the Jets' win over Sumter.

"Shane Gaymon has been with us for a while, and he's been pretty solid for us," Watts said. "He started at Riley when we won, and I'm pretty sure he'll be out there on Monday.

"I'm not quite sure where we go from there. We'll just have to see. Blane (Hopkins) has been pretty good, and, of course, Ethan Lisensby has been good for us in relief as has Will Beck."

The come-from-behind win in the third game against Dalzell is what seems to have turned Sumter's season around. Coker thinks improved pitching and getting some arms healthy has led to the improvement.

"I think pitching is what got us through a lot of the Florence games," Coker said. "There were very few walks, very few hit batters, and we were hitting out spots."

Jacob Holladay is expected to start the second game of the series on Tuesday in Dalzell. If a third game is needed on Wednesday, Dustin Kennedy will take the mound for Sumter.

Dalzell centerfielder Gabe Harris thinks his team has to play well in all facets if it is to win the series.

"The key for us will be our ability to throw strikes and make less errors," Harris said. "I feel like if we do that we've got a chance because we're a good hitting team."