Despite the distraction of a sudden, unexpected coaching change, the Mid-Carolina baseball team leads the pack at the midway point of the Region 3-2A baseball season with a perfect 5-0 grade in the first half of the conference campaign.
Louie Alexander, the school’s head football coach and athletic director, has taken charge of the baseball team for the remainder of the season after long time M-C coach Clyde Livingston resigned last week.
The Rebels, unfazed, dumped top contender Batesburg-Leesville 5-0 in their first game under Alexander on Monday, and closed out the first half with a 19-2 rout of neighboring Newberry. Solid pitching has been the key to M-C’s success so far. Krishawn Holley, Cody Page and C.J. Edwards have all thrown well for the 8-0 Rebels.
Edwards, a sophomore right-hander, has been exceptional, turning in complete-game wins over B-L and defending state champion Gilbert. Edwards allowed Gilbert only two hits while striking out 12 in M-C’s dramatic, come-from-behind 2-1 win on March 24. He followed that gem with another on Monday against B-L. Page was scheduled to start the rescheduled game, but was hit on his hand by a pitch in the top of the first inning, and gave way to Edwards when it was apparent the swelling on his thumb did n ot allow him to grip the ball properly. No problem. Edwards simply took to the hill and spun a three-hit shutout with 11 strikeouts.
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Jeffrey Hentz led the offense vs. the Panthers with three hits, two of them doubles, and three RBIs. Hentz, Tevins Walker and Ben Derrick all slugged home runs vs. Newberry.
Gilbert (8-3, 4-1) travels to Batesburg-Leesville (9-2, 3-2) on Friday for a key rematch in the second-half opener. The Indians thumped the Panthers 10-3 on March 17. Jake Padgett got off to a bit of a shaky start on the mound for Gilbert in the first meeting with B-L, but blanked the Panthers over the final four innings to get the complete-game win with nine strikeouts. Christopher Owings, Matt Stegall and Padgett did the heavy offensive work. Owings, who has committed to USC, went 3-for-4 with three runs and three RBIs, Stegall had two hits and three RBIs and Padgett had two hits, one RBI and scored three runs..
“I don’t know what it is, but we have not played well against Gilbert in my three years here,” mused B-L coach Tommy Williams. “Overall, I pretty happy with the way we’ve played. I thought we’d hit the ball, and we’ve only been shut down once. I’m pleasantly surprised by the pitching so far, considering we only had one pitcher at the start of the season with varsity experience.”
Burnett is generally pleased with his team’s performance to date, as well.
For the most part, we’ve pitched pretty well but we haven’t quite hit the way I thought we would and we’ve had a little trouble on defense,” said the Indians manager. “But maybe that’s because we’ve been battling injuries all season, and we have to have our full time out on the field. That’s what I’m waiting to see.”
Burnett is also quite impressed with the level of competition in the new region.
“The fourth-place team in this region can be a state contender,” he said. “It’s tough game in and game out. The Edwards kid threw great against us, and put us behind but we still control our own destiny if we can get the job done on the field.”
Region 3-2A standings
Mid-Carolina 5-0; Gilbert 4-1; Batesburg-Leesville 3-2; Strom Thurmond 2-3; Saluda 1-4; Newberry 0-5.