The log jam at the top of the Region 4-3A baseball standings will break up a bit on Friday night when Lugoff-Elgin travels to face Chapin.
L-E, Chapin and A.C. Flora all enter Friday’s round of region games with just one conference loss. In the first go round, Lugoff-Elgin lost 5-3 to Flora, but defeated Chapin 8-2. The Eagles, in turn, handed the Falcons their first region loss in a couple of years, 4-3.
Needless to say, the 4-3A pennant is up for grabs.
Chapin coach Scott McLeod expects to see junior ace Forest Koumas on the mound for the Demons, ever though the early USC commitment hooked up in a 10-inning, scoreless duel with Fairfield Central’s Justin Trapp on Monday night in a game L-E won 2-0 in the 11th inning after both starters, by rule, had to leave the game. Koumas allowed only two hits and had 12 strikeouts, while Trapp, who is committed to Coastal Carolina, had 17 strikeouts and served up only five hits.
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“I really don’t know if we’re going to see (Koumas), but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him come back,” said McLeod. “It’s a big, big game for both of us.”
Wesley Jackson was the winning pitcher for L-E (7-2, 4-1) in the first clash with the Eagles on March 17.
Chapin (8-3, 3-1) dropped a 4-3 decision to unbeaten Mid-Carolina on Wednesday in a non-region outing. Stephen Melonas pitched five strong innings before being lift. The Rebels made their move after the exit.
“Stephen was really dominant, but it was a non-region game and we had him on a pitch count,” said McLeod.
Melonas tossed five innings of one-hit ball with nine strikeouts before reaching his limit.
Josh Miller, Melonas, D.J. Roberts and Alex Nicolai have been productive hitters for the Eagles to date.
Lugoff-Elgin has been hit by the injury bug. Koumas has some arm issues that cost him some innings early, and leadoff hitter Jacob Murphy misses three weeks with a pulled hamstring.
"With guys in an out of the lineup and all the rain we’ve had, it’s been hard to build up any momentum with the lineup, but hopefully we’ll have everything in place the rest of the way,” said Demons coach Randy Stokes.
Koumas is off to a great start at the plate and on the mound. He is 1-1 with one save, a 0.87 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 24 innings of work on the hill. Offensively, he is hitting .529 with four double, four home runs and 16 RBIs.
Nick Mincey and Wesley Jackson have also thrown well. Mincey is 2-0 with 19 strikeouts in 13.1 innings, while Jackson is 2-0 with 13 whiffs in 13.1 innings.
The return of Murphy (.348, 7 RBIs) has helped the attack. Alston Bonds (8 RBIs), Justin Ross (7) and Zack Kelly (7) have also been good run-producers for the Demons so far.
Region 4-3A standings
A.C. Flora 4-1; Lugoff-Elgin 4-1; Chapin 3-1; Fairfield Central 2-3; Chester 1-4; Lower Richland 0-4.