Sumter assumed sole possession of first place in Region 6-4A baseball with a 6-1 win over recent tormentor Hartsville Friday night at home.
The Gamecocks, 9-4 overall, finished the first-half of the pennant race with a 4-1 region record and four straight wins after falling to West Florence in the region opener on March 13. Hartsville dropped back to 3-2 in conference matters.
Sumter was relegated to third-place finishes in 2007 and 2008 because of its inability to beat either Hartsville or Conway. The Gamecocks have beaten both the Red Foxes and the Tigers in first-half testing this season.
Four runs in the bottom of the first inning were all Sumter pitchers Bruce Caldwell and Tyler Smith required to seal the deal. Caldwell started, went four innings and picked up the win. Smith got a save by taking care of the final three innings. The two combined for a five-hitter with 12 strikeouts. Smith fanned seven in his extended relief stint.
Caldwell and Smith also played a part in the Gamecocks’ 4-0 burst in the first turn at the plate. Caldwell started the scoring with a two-run double to plate Michael Blackmon and Jeremy Buckner. Caldwell scored on a Hartsville error on a ball put into play by Smith. Justin Till singled to score Smith with the fourth run of the inning.