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Down to its final strike, Lancaster Post 31 struck for two runs to earn a 9-8 win over Greenwood Post 20 to capture a berth in the upcoming American Legion baseball state tournament in Greenwood. Lancaster’s comeback win gave P-31 the second-round series win, 3-2.
P-31, 21-8, trailed 8-6 going to the ninth inning at Greenwood’s John Nave Stadium.
Devin Rodgers, with two runners on and two out, drilled a two-strike pitch up the middle where the Greenwood second baseman made the stop and threw to first, but Rodgers was safe and the Post 20 first baseman bobbled the ball. Tyler Rodgers scored from third on the play and a hustling Trey Payne dashed home from second base with what proved to be the winning run.
“Devin put the ball in play on a two-strike pitch and Tyler and Trey hustled home to get us the runs we needed,” Lancaster coach Quinton Rodgers said. “We told our players to keep their heads up and play hard to the end and they did and something good happened for us.”
Lancaster right-hander Tripp Rollings, who homered in the P-31 ninth to slice the Greenwood lead to 8-7, worked a scoreless ninth as he struck out the side for the win. Rollings worked five innings in relief of starter Chandler Gardner, striking out nine. He allowed no hits and two walks. Gardner went four innings and yielded six runs, five hits and five walks. He fanned two.
“Tripp started us with the homer in the ninth to give us a spark and then finished the job by striking out the side,” Rodgers said. “We had some clutch play late to nail down the win and state bid.”
Lancaster, which trailed 2-1 in the series before posting two straight wins to capture the series and the state bid, held a 4-3 lead after three innings, but Greenwood came back to take an 8-5 lead after six innings. Lancaster scored a run in the seventh to make it 8-6 to set the stage for the decisive three-run ninth-inning rally.
“We got it done on offense in the top of the ninth with Tripp’s homer and then Devin came through with his clutch hit and Tyler and Trey hustled home to put us on top,” Rodgers said. “After winning five games last season, the expectations for this season were a question mark, but we’ve come on this season to make it an exclamation mark with a berth to the state tournament. I’m proud of these players and coaches and the way they’ve worked together to achieve this success.”
Rollings led the Lancaster offense with a home run, double and two singles. Tyler Rodgers supplied four singles and a RBI. Chandler Neal posted two hits and two RBIs.
Devin Rodgers chipped in a hit and two RBIs. Trey Payne and Colt Ellis each had a hit and drove in a run. Bobby Delly and Brandon Cato each added a hit for Lancaster. Post 31 returns to Greenwood on Saturday to open play in the state tournament.
“Right now, I’m not sure who we will play, but I’m thrilled we’re in the tournament and have a chance to play for the state championship,” Rodgers said.
Lancaster evens series
Lancaster won a high-scoring game to even the best-of-five series at two games each in the S.C. American Legion Upper State second-round baseball playoffs Sunday night at Eggleton Field. The game was originally set for Saturday, but postponed due to a rainout. Post 31’s 14-10 win forced a decisive fifth game in Greenwood on Monday night.
Greenwood Post 20, which trailed 5-0 early, rallied to take an 8-5 lead, but Lancaster charged back to gain a 13-8 edge. Post 31 used an eight-run sixth inning to take a 13-8 lead and held on for the four-run win.
In the Lancaster sixth, Tripp Rollings drilled a two-run single, Tyler Rodgers ripped a RBI-triple and Tripp Wright had a two-run hit. Wright had two hits in the pivotal inning.
Devin Rodgers also had a RBI on a walk.
Wright had four hits and drove in four runs on the night. Tripp Rollins also had four hits – two singles, a home run, double and three RBIs.
Greenwood came back to make it 13-9, but Lancaster’s Chandler Neal smashed a solo home run in the P-31 eighth for a 14-9 lead. Neal, one of four Lancaster pitchers, went 2.1 innings for the win.
He allowed two hits, two walks and two runs. He struck out three.
Chandler Gardner, who went two-thirds of an inning, notched the save in two-rhirds inning of work.
Brien Clyburn, who went 3.2 frames, allowed five runs, five hits and five walks. Clyburn fanned two.
Kendall Knight worked 2.1 frames and yielded three runs, six hits and three walks.
The Lancaster defense defused a Greenwood rally in the ninth, turning a double play to cap the game.
Trey Payne produced three hits in the Lancaster win.
Colt Ellis, who drove in two runs, had a home run and a single. Jonah Crenshaw also had a pair of hits. Devin Rodgers had a hit, three RBIs and scored a run. Tyler Rodgers ripped a RBI-triple. Bobby Delly had a hit and Neal belted his solo home run.
The game was intense and resulted in six ejections – four Greenwood players, an assistant coach and a Lancaster player.