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Juniors net state bid with win over Inman

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Post 31 Legion baseball

By Robert Howey

 INMAN – The Lancaster American Legion Post 31 junior baseball team, in a do-or-die situation, kept alive its playoff hopes with a 6-4 win over Inman at Chapman High School on Thursday, July 17.

The Post 31 juniors’ two-run win earned Lancaster a bid to the S.C. American Legion Junior Baseball state tournament in Florence where play opened Saturday.

Lancaster, 14-6, topped Inman in the best-of-three series to notch its state tournament berth.

P-31, which handed Inman its only two losses of the season, opened the best-of-three second-round series with a 7-2 win over Inman on Tuesday, July 15.

Inman rebounded for a 10-6 win over host P-31 on Wednesday, July 16, but Lancaster, on the road for the second time in three days, responded with its 6-4 win over Post 45.

“We had an outstanding effort at Inman on Thursday night,” Lancaster coach Paul Caskey said. “Our backs were to the wall, but we battled all the way and came up with a big win.”

Lancaster snapped a 1-all draw in the fifth inning when Andrew Caskey, who had two hits and three RBIs, drilled a double to give the Lancaster juniors a 2-1 edge.

An inning later, Lancaster ignited for four runs.

Neil Taylor singled home a run for a 3-1 lead and Eric Miles followed with a run-scoring hit to give Lancaster a 4-1 spread.

Caskey then delivered again with a two-run single to put the P-31 juniors up, 6-1.

Inman came back with three runs in the sixth to make it 6-4, but Lancaster held on for the victory and state berth.

Miles, P-31’s third pitcher on the night, earned the save as he worked an inning and allowed two hits and fanned two.

Taylor, the Lancaster starter, hurled 2.2 innings and yielded a hit, five walks and struck out two.

Byron Haigler then pitched 3.1 frames and gave up five hits, two earned runs and a walk. He fanned two.

“It was a matter of pulling together and giving our best effort,” Caskey said. “We didn’t play our best on Wednesday, but got back on track Thursday for a clutch win.

“It was about timely hitting and making good pitches and playing tough defense,” Caskey said.

Caskey led P-31 with two hits, including a double, and drove in three runs.

Taylor, Miles and Haigler each had two hits and drove home a run.

Holden Payne and Brady Horton each added a pair of hits.

Lancaster, in the state tournament in Florence, faced South Florence Blue at 4 p.m. Saturday, July 19 at Florence’s Legion Field.

Lancaster entered the field as the Upper State third seed, while South Florence Blue is the Lower State second seed.

Play Saturday opened at 1 p.m. when York Post 66 faced Socastee at 10 a.m.

Aiken met Moncks Corner at 1 p.m., with Lancaster battling South Florence Blue at 4 p.m.

Florence Post 1 met Camden Post 17 at 7:30 Saturday.

Play continues today, Sunday, July 20, with games at 10 a.m., 1 p.m., 4 and 7:30.