Lexington’s late-season surged seemed to be ebbing a bit after a 5-2 loss to Hartsville in the second round of the Class 4A District V baseball playoffs. But, obviously, the Wildcats are just not ready to pack the gear away just yet.
Tommy Mishoe’s team capped a 3-0 run through the loser’s bracket on Wednesday at Kelleytown Stadium, sweeping host Hartsville 5-2 and 6-1 to qualify for a spot in the Lower State championship tournament. Lexington, 17-12, will face either Region 5-4A rival North Augusta or Sumter Saturday at home in the first phase of the Elite Eight portion of the postseason.
“We received two excellent pitching performances and we got the key hits when we needed them,” said Mishoe. “I’m really proud of the way these guys have responded to the challenges they’ve faced over the past two weeks or so.”
Junior Alex Brooks was in constant trouble in the opener, but managed to limit the Red Foxes to just two runs. Hartsville had nine hits, drew four walks and had two batters hit by Brooks pitches. But Brooks got the big outs and finished with a complete-game win. He escaped unscathed from bases-loaded jams in the third, fourth and fifth innings. The Foxes had runners in scoring position in all but one inning, but could never deliver the KO.
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Lexington plated four run in the second, and then left it up to Brooks to make the advantage hold up. Three Hartsville errors loaded the bases before Derrick Smith rapped a RBI single and Kyle Turner ripped a two-run double. The fourth run crossed on a ground out of the bat of Chris Harper.
In the decisive second game, Smith tossed a masterful five-hitter with four strikeouts. Lexington wasted little time getting on the board in the nightcap, scoring all six of its runs in the first three innings. Smith needed only the two-spot in the first inning, as it rurned out. Two-out, run-scoring singles by John McInnis and Charlton Herpst did the trick. The Wildcats essentially settled the issue by plating three more in the second on RBI hits by Turner and Matthew Van Laan sandwiched around a successful safety squeeze bunt by Tommy Frazier.