FLORENCE, S.C. — It’s always a plus in any ballgame when the pitcher can set the tone, and Mason Lynch certainly did that for the Florence Blue squad Monday.
Lynch was not only dominant but near-perfect in his four innings of work — allowing just a lone single while striking out four and walking none.
He got more than enough run support as Parker Winfield and Aden Palmer each connected on bases-clearing extra-base hits in a 9-2 romp over Hartsville Black on Monday at American Legion Field.
“He came out and threw strikes, and that’s always the key when you haven’t been out on the field in a while,” said Florence coach Stephen Dill, whose team improved to 1-0 on the young S.C. American League junior season. “But he threw strikes and we played good defense behind him.”
Hartsville catcher Garrett Keen broke up the perfecto with a single up the middle with two outs in the top of the fourth. His courtesy runner was then picked off, allowing Lynch to finish his night barely working out of the stretch.
“The team that won the game walked the least (number of hitters),” Dill said. “…If you can avoid that at this level and throw strikes and play good defense, you’ve got a pretty good chance.”
Jake Hardee relieved Lynch and was also perfect through two innings before some early wildness in the top of the seventh cost him. He hit the first two batters and they eventually came around to score both of Hartsville’s runs on back-to-back RBI singles by Drew Andrews and Tony DiCorte.
“They fought until the very end and that’s all you can ask,” Hartsville coach Bruce Douglas said. “…We’ve just got to come out (next time) and get off to a better start and be ready from the get-go. We spotted them a couple runs early and then we had an error and a couple walks and that really opened the door for them.”
Palmer’s three-run double put Florence up 3-0 right away and Winfield followed that with a three-run triple in the second. Combined with Hardee’s bases-loaded walk and Stone Osborne’s RBI single, Dill’s squad found itself up 8-0 after just two frames.
“We benefited from some walks and had two bases-clearing hits there,” he said. “That’s what baseball’s all about — timely hits and capitalizing on the other team’s errors and we did a pretty good job of that.”
Winfield finished with two hits and four RBI while also scoring twice. Osborne collected a pair of hits while Hardee finished with three walks, an RBI and a run scored.
Hunter Matthews also reached base twice and scored a pair of runs for Florence.
Ace Gibson took the loss for Hartsville as the first of four pitchers. Jordan Rauf and Luke Thompson finished off the game and combined to allow just one hit with three walks and three strikeouts in 3 1/3 innings of work.
“It will take a few more games before everyone hits their stride,” Douglas said. “This is basically February for us, but everyone’s facing the same thing so you can’t make excuses. You’ve just got to come out and compete.”