Lexington baseball has had some impressive comebacks this season but saved one of the team’s best with the season on the line.
The Wildcats rallied from a five-run deficit to defeat Chapin, 10-8, on Monday in a Class 5A Lower State elimination game. Lexington advances to Wednesday’s Lower State championship at Berkeley and will need to beat the Stags twice to advance to the state championship series.
“I don’t know what to say any more about them,” Lexington coach Brian Hucks said. “They just keep plugging. They give up a five-spot and go down 8-3. … But I don’t put anything past this group. I told them that is what championship teams do. We found a way to win and we will try to go to Berkeley and win two.”
The Wildcats will have their top two starting pitchers available on Wednesday in South Carolina signee Reese Marcum and North Greenville signee Cole Long.
It was the fifth meeting of the season between the two Region 5-5A foes with Lexington winning the first four, including 8-2 on Thursday in the opening game of the Lower State.
The Eagles led 8-3 after a five-run top of the third. Foster Apple had a three-run home run, one of his two homers in the game, to put Chapin up 8-3.
Lexington answered with five runs in the bottom of the inning. Clemson signee Nathan Hall led off the inning with a solo homer. Braden Fournel also had an RBI single in the inning.
Chapin loaded the bases in the top of the fifth with Apple at the plate. That’s when Hucks turned to senior Jake Smith, the team’s leader in appearances. The right-hander struck out the Chapin slugger to end the inning.
In the bottom of the fifth, Lexington took the lead when Landon Knight led with a solo homer to make the score 9-8. Knight was looking to redeem himself after making an error in the Eagles’ five-run third inning.
The Wildcats added one more in the inning on a bases-loaded walk to Tyler Floyd.
“I knew I couldn’t get down on that error I made in the field,” Knight said. “I knew my hitting ability, I stuck to it. I looked for a fastball and got it.
“We just fight until that last pitch is thrown and we showed that tonight.“
Chapin got the tying run to the plate in the top of the seventh with no outs but Smith retired the next three to end the game.
The loss ended Chapin’s run through the postseason. The Eagles finished fourth in Region 5-5A and began the postseason with a losing record, but they went 3-0 in the district round and picked up a win Saturday against Summerville to make it to a second elimination game on Monday.
“I’m proud of my guys. We weren’t supposed to be here,” Chapin coach Scott McLeod said. “Nobody on this team had playoff experience. COVID shut us down (in 2020) and we were a game short of making the playoffs last year. We found a way to make it to the final six. I’m as pleased as I could be.”
WP: Jake Smith Hitters: C: Gray Wells 2-5 RBI; Foster Apple 2-4 HR, 5 RBI/ L: Tyler Floyd 1-2 2 RBI; Landon Knight 3-5 HR, 2 RBI; Nathan Hall 1-2 HR, RBI.