FLORENCE, S.C. – Trailing Sumter by one game in the South Carolina American League’s lower-state standings, Florence Post 1 found itself trailing early against Wayne County (N.C.) on American Legion Field.
That was, until the fourth inning, when coach Derick Urquhart’s team scored six runs and held on for a 7-5 victory in Game 1 of their Saturday doubleheader. Post 1 won 5-1 in the nightcap.
Not having played since Wednesday’s 6-3 loss to Sumter that relegated Post 1 to second place, Urquhart wanted his team simply to be upbeat as coaches worked to prepare the field after Friday’s rainfall.
“We didn’t get a chance to talk to them today because we were trying to get the field ready and having to kind of rush to the game,” said Urquhart, whose team’s Game 1 win Saturday improved Post 1’s record to 14-3. “We just told them to go out there and have some fun and play some ball like we were a couple of weeks ago.”
Florence won its first 10 games before losing at home to Camden. Post 1 won the next two meetings against Camden and even won this past Monday at Sumter. But Sumter’s victory on Wednesday was the P-15’s second of the season against Florence.
So Florence was looking for any kind of momentum. After Wayne County took a 3-1 lead in the top of the fourth on Braeden Collins’ home run to left field, one big Florence play was on defense when Post 1 right fielder Noah Carter made a diving catch on Rett Johnson’s line drive. Carter drove home Florence’s first-inning run on a sacrifice fly.
Post 1’s Caleb Oakley started the pivotal bottom of the fourth off with a single, and Nik Mezzanotte singled to right. After D.P. Pendergrass reached on a bunt down the third-base line, Florence had the bases loaded with one out.
“That’s part of his game,” Urquhart said of Pendergrass, a University of South Carolina commit. “He’s got the green light to do it anytime. He got the job done and kept the inning going.”
That inning really got going with a two-run single by Korique Rainey that tied the game. Then, after Carter struck out, Post 1 delivered clutch hits with two outs. One was a two-run double by Owen Taylor, and another was a two-run single to right by winning pitcher George Derrick Floyd that gave Florence a 7-3 lead.
“We finally got some good approaches,” Urquhart said. “Korique had a good at-bat, finally, where he went the other way with it – a good, two-run single there going backside. All (Wayne County) did was keep feeding us backside, and our guys weren’t adjusting and weren’t learning. And finally, that one inning, we finally figured some things out and went the other way. Now we need to learn to keep from swinging at that high fastball.”
Wayne County tried to make game of it with Will Uzzell's run-scoring groundout and Sam Rice's RBI single. But, Florence was able to hold on and now has a chance to tie Sumter in the standings with a game at 7 p.m. Monday on the P-15’s home field, Riley Park.
“I’m not really happy that we still gave up a couple of runs late to still make it close,” Urquhart said. “We have to get our bullpen going. We’re still having control problems with our bullpen coming in and walking guys. We’ve still got to get that fixed.”
In Game 2, Post 1 led 1-0 and then pulled away with four runs in the fifth. For the game, Pendergrass and Carter each had two hits and an RBI. And, Game 2's winning pitcher was Jamonte Vanderhall.