Lamar travelling to the upper state championship
By Drake Horton, Contributing Writer
It was not how Lamar head coach Adam Windham wanted it, but at the end of the day he will take it.
“Well, it’s where we wanted to be, not quite where we want to be pitching wise, but we’re there,” Windham said.
Needing one more win to clinch its second straight district title and third in the last five years Lamar made it interesting, losing the first and forcing a decisive second in which the Silver Foxes won, defeating the Dixie Hornets 6-2 this past Tuesday, May 2.
The path to this outcome was not the most pleasant or smooth, however, and while the final result was what every Lamar fan wanted, it did come at price.
At the start of this year the South Carolina High School League implemented new pitch count rules in the effort to protect pitchers arms. After so many pitches a pitcher must take a set amount of days off before he can pitch again.
Heading into Tuesday, Lamar had yet to lose and Dixie was going to have to beat the Silver Foxes twice in one day to claim to district while Lamar simply had to win just one of the two.
The ideal situation going into the first game for Lamar was winning, resulting not only in a district championship and a trip to the upper state championship, but a saving of pitching that would be necessary when the upper state started on the Thursday.
Unfortunately for Lamar, that was not how things went. From a big picture standpoint the Silver Foxes stilled advanced, but from a small picture standpoint they exhausted way more pitching that what they had hoped to by having to play that second game.
What made it even worse was how it all happened in the first game.
With a 3-2 lead in the top of the seventh inning and two outs with nobody on base, the district looked like a wrap for the Silver Foxes.
Lamar relief pitcher Rashad Coleman was blowing the Hornet hitters away having struck out the first five batters he faced after relieving starter Luke Amerson.
Down to their final out and seemingly no hope in sight, the Hornets found life as the next batter drew a walk giving Dixie a faint pulse and that faint pulse seemed to be all they needed.
“We had the game won and we walked a guy with two outs in the seventh,” Windham said. “You just can’t walk people and we know that.”
After stealing second following the walk, Dixie capitalized on the free pass with a slow rolling RBI single to right field that was just out of reach of Lamar’s second baseman, who was shading over towards the bag.
Tied 3-3, Lamar went into the bottom of the seventh with its 1-2-3 hitters, but Dixie retired the sluggers in order and that was basically the proverbial “nail in the coffin” as the Hornets plated three runs in the top of the eighth to win 6-3.
With the loss forcing a winner take all game two, Lamar sent Daniel Galloway to mound and he delivered for the Silver Foxes.
Galloway pitched 6 and 2/3 innings, striking out 11 and carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning before it was broken up.
In the seventh, Dixie tried its best to mount a comeback, scoring one run off of Galloway before he was forced to leave the game due to his pitch count being maxed out.
Limited with pitching, Windham called on sophomore Ace James to take the mound and it got a little interesting.
James gave up a RBI single and for a moment it looked like he was about to give up a two-RBI double, but center fielder Jadarius Munford stretched his long arm out and made the final catch of the game over his head while running to secure the 6-2 victory and give Lamar the district championship.
“Our best players, our players that we count on to get the job done, got the job done for us in that second game,” Windham said. “Obviously, I didn’t want to have to use Daniel (Galloway), but we did because there is no tomorrow if we don’t win.”
It was a satisfying end to a very long night.