With three teams in a virtual tie for first place with two weeks to go in the regular season, the Region 5-4A baseball race should be a rather dramatic one. Entering tonight’s round of region game, weather permitting, North Augusta (6-2) enjoys a slight edge over White Knoll (5-2) and slumping Lexington (5-2).
The region headliner is the first region meeting of the season between White Knoll and Lexington Wednesday on the Wildcats field.
NA finds itself with a tie-breaking edge over White Knoll thanks to a sweep of the Timberwolves, who won the Forest Acres Classic championship last week. But before going to A.C. Flora for some spring-break fun, White Knoll was dealt a bitter 7-1 loss by North Augusta on April 3 – a verdict that could well haunt the Timberwolves the rest of the way. WK out-hit the Yellow Jackets 8-7, but couldn’t deliver in the clutch. The defense fell apart with three errors, leading to five unearned runs. The Timberwolves are scheduled to play at Dutch Fork tonight.
Lexington (7-9 overall) hit the skids after handing North Augusta a 7-2 loss on March 24. Since then, the Wildcats have dropped six of seven outings, including a 1-3 FAC showing last week. Lexington hopes to get in a region doubleheader tonight against last-place Orangeburg-Wilkinson.
Don’t forget about Dutch Fork, which has been flying under the radar a bit, but is only just one game back of Lexington and White Knoll. The Silver Foxes (8-10, 6-3) can make things quite interesting with a win over the Timberwolves.
Irmo (8-6, 4-5), Richland Northeast (11-5, 2-5) and Aiken (3-5) are all in the hunt for the fifth and final playoff spot.
Irmo has a tough week on tap with games Tuesday at North Augusta and Friday at Lexington, and has only one game left with its closest playoff challengers – April 24 vs. RNE. A 4-3 loss to Aiken on April 3 may loom large in the playoff resolution.
The Jackets have hit the ball well all season, as its team .333 batting average indicates. Robbie Morris is batting .481 with an astonishing 1.363 OPS, 12 runs and 10 RBIs in 12 games and just 27 at bats. Dillon Gaines stands at .436 with nine RBIs and a team-leading 16 runs scored. Lance Hayes is hitting .405 with a team-high 16 RBIs. Tony Ford has been the workhorse on the mound – 44 innings, 3-3 record, 2.39 ERA.
Richland Northeast has little margin for error, but the Cavaliers got a shot in the arm by beating Lexington 4-3 on April 3 before heading into spring break. Still, RNE has a demanding stretch-run schedule. The Cavs are slated to face Aiken on the road Tuesday in a must-win situation.