Well that was worth the wait.
One night after getting washed out due to rain and thunder, the Sumter P-15's pulled out a dramatic 4-3 victory in the bottom of the seventh inning over Goose Creek Post 166 on Wednesday at Riley Park to take a 2-0 …
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One night after getting washed out due to rain and thunder, the Sumter P-15's pulled out a dramatic 4-3 victory in the bottom of the seventh inning over Goose Creek Post 166 on Wednesday at Riley Park to take a 2-0 lead in their best-of-5 South Carolina American Legion baseball third-round playoffs series.
Sumter was scheduled to travel to Summerville on Thursday to face Goose Creek in Game 3. If it won, Sumter advances to the state tournament. If it loses, Game 4 will be played Friday at 7 p.m. at Riley Park.
In the bottom of the seventh, Goose Creek chose to walk Drake Thames to face Wylie Coker with two outs and the potential winning run at third base. Coker made Post 166 head coach David Horton pay for that decision by hitting a chopper up the middle and forcing a hurried throw from the Goose Creek shortstop that allowed Coker to reach, scoring Jackson Hoshour from third and giving Sumter the victory.
"It was a tough break at the end," said Horton. "I wanted to take the bat out of Thames' hands because he already had two doubles tonight. I thought we'd roll the dice with the next guy, and it worked out for them and they got that run in."
Sumter's half of the seventh inning was textbook winning baseball. After falling behind 3-2 in the top of the seventh, P-15's leadoff hitter SB DuCom battled Goose Creek starter John Shelton in an eight-pitch at bat. Shelton threw 105 pitches on the evening, and DuCom saw 32 of them.
Shelton eventually won the battle by striking out DuCom, but DuCom won the war as Shelton, who had held Sumter batter's in check all night, was relieved by Dalton Godin because Shelton had reached his pitch limit.
"You gotta give DucCom credit," said Sumter head coach Curtis Johnson, whose team improved to 23-8 with the victory. "He [struck out] in the last inning there, but man, what an at-bat to get that pitcher out of the game."
Chandler Hunter then singled up the middle and Trent Frye was hit by a pitch, putting runners on first and second. Hunter, and pinch runner Hoshour then advanced on a wild pitch, putting the tying run just 90 feet away.
Dustin Kennedy tied the game up on a grounder up the middle, scoring Hunter, and advancing Hoshour to third. That's when Horton elected to walk Thames to face Coker. Crucially, Thames then stole second base without a throw on the first pitch to Coker. If Thames had remained on first base, he might have been easily forced out at second base on Coker's chopper. Instead, Goose Creek's only play was at first base, and the speedy Coker forced the bad throw that resulted in the winning run.
"Holy smokes, man," said Johnson. "It went from bad to good in a hurry."
It's an especially tough loss for Post 166, which had just driven all the way to Sumter on Tuesday only to have to turn around and drive back to the Lowcountry and return to Sumter on Wednesday.
"I don't really think it had anything to do with it," said Horton. "We didn't get a chance to practice like we might have been able to, but I don't think it mattered. Any time you lose, especially like that, it's tough. I'm proud of my guys; they battled, that's all I can ask.""
Thames not only led the team at the plate with his two hits, but he also picked up the victory on the mound after coming on in relief in the top of the seventh inning. Hunter, Kennedy, Jacob Holladay, and Trey Yates also notched base hits, and the P-15's stole four bases on the evening.
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