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BUFORD – Indian Land, in a do-or-die situation, delivered twice to stay alive in postseason baseball play.
The surging Warriors advanced to the Class AA Upper State championship baseball series with a sweep of Buford at Buford Park on Wednesday, May 7.
The Warriors, with one loss in the double-elimination Class AA District III tournament, posted the sweep of the host Jackets, 11-0, 4-0.
The Warriors, 16-7, wrapped up the district championship with the 4-0 win over the Jackets behind right-hander Chris Cantrell who threw a five-hitter.
IL, in the nightcap on the heels of the 11-0 first-game triumph, ignited for two first-inning runs and added single runs in the fifth and seventh innings to seal the district crown.
“Coming here today we knew we had to step it up and we did,” IL coach Alan LeRoy said. “This is a special group of kids and they responded today.
“I told them to have fun and they did as they had some big smiles at the end,” he said.
The Warriors, who have won four straight elimination games, took control early in the nightcap as Mike Webb, who was stellar at the plate, drove home the only run IL needed on a sacrifice fly. James Porcelly drilled a RBI-double for a 2-0 edge.
Cantrell, who tossed a five-hitter to up his record to 5-3, then went to work as he hurled IL’s second shutout of the host Jackets.
“Our pitchers today gave us a senior effort and we swung the bats well,” LeRoy said. “I can’t say enough about them coming in here at Buford and getting two shutouts over a team which beat us twice during the regular season and finished as the region runner-up.”
IL held its 2-0 edge until the fifth when Jake Dyer smashed a triple into the right field corner for a 3-0 lead. Two frames later, Dyer delivered again with a RBI-double.
Dyer led the IL offense with a triple, double and two RBIs. Mike Webb had two hits and a RBI. Porcelly had a RBI-hit, while Derian Gueldner and Cantrell each had a hit.
On defense, IL senior right fielder Manny McCord had a strong night, including an early-inning catch to rob BHS’s Troy Cunningham of an extra-base hit.
James Gardner led BHS with two hits. Druw Rollings, Evan Flynn and Austin Pate each had a hit. Flynn took the loss.
In the opener, the Warriors set the tone early as they took a 6-0 lead in the second inning. Mike Webb, who had three hits and seven RBIs, highlighted the IL second with a grand slam.
Webb later had a RBI hit and capped the IL scoring with a two-run homer.
“You have to take your hat off to Indian Land because they hit the ball and their pitchers gave them a quality effort in each game,” BHS coach Eric Funderburk said. “It was a tough night for us and I hate it for our seniors. We had a good season, but this isn’t the way we wanted it to end. I appreciate our seniors and our fans for their support.”
IL hurler Jake Dyer tossed a two-hitter and fanned two.
Chris Cantrell had four hits. Dyer drilled a double. Derian Gueldner and Bobby McCree each had a hit.
James Gardner led BHS with two hits.
Gage Hinson took the loss for BHS, which finished 14-8.
“We showed a lot of improvement from mid-season on,” Funderburk said. “We can’t wait to next season because we showed a lot of promise. I’m proud of our guys.”
IL advances to face Class AA District IV and Region IV-AA regular-season champion Cenral of Pageland on Friday, May 9 at 6 p.m. at the Eagles’ field.