Demons rally in the ninth to eliminate Swamp Foxes
The Ashley Ridge baseball team was eliminated from the Class AAAA baseball playoffs Wednesday with a 6-3 loss to Lugoff-Elgin in extra innings.
After giving up a pair of unearned runs in the first inning and a run in the fourth, the Swamp Foxes rallied to tie the game.
Carson Walls doubled in the bottom of the fifth and scored on a Rusty Grayson single. Jason Miller then reached on a base on balls to load the bases and Josh Litchfield singled to plate Wesley Aschenbrenner to cut the Demons’ lead to 1.
In the bottom of the seventh Aschenbrenner singled, advanced on a passed ball and scored off a Jason Miller single to tie the game and force extra innings.
But Lugoff-Elgin scored three runs off two hits and three Swamp Fox errors in the top of the ninth and retired three straight batters in the bottom of the frame to advance to face Lexington in the District 5 championship series.
Austin Hayes opened the inning with a single and moved around on a sacrifice bunt by Hunter McManus and a bunt single by leadoff hitter Cody Mailly. Then Danny Bowen drove in Hayes for the game-winning run. Mailly later scored on a groundout by Russ Radcliff and the Demons added another insurance run when Bowen scored on a passed ball.
“Zac Bowers gave us a great effort on the mound tonight and we had some key hits,” Lugoff-Elgin coach Randy Stokes said. “Hunter McManus, our nine-hole hitter, had three hits tonight. I like the effort from our kids. I’m just really proud of them. I don’t know that we played well, but we played hard.”
The Demons improved to 12-14 with the win while Ashley Ridge dropped to 10-15.
Bowers (4-4) scattered seven hits over eight innings and struck out nine Ashley Ridge batters. He yielded four walks and hit three batters.
Ashley Ridge starter John Sanchez also did a lot to keep his team in the game. He scattered nine hits over eight plus innings while striking out five. He didn’t walk any batters but did hit one with a pitch.
However, the Swamp Foxes committed six fielding errors.
McManus led all batters, going 3 for 3 at the plate with an RBI. Ethan Beasley also reached base three times for the Demons.
Jason Miller went 1 for 2 at the plate with an RBI to lead Ashley Ridge. Both Josh Litchfield and Aaron Miller reached base three times for the Swamp Foxes.
“I’m proud of the way our young guys really stepped up in the second half of the season and the playoffs,” Ashley Ridge coach BJ Bellush said. “We showed improvement, won a playoff game and then played Lexington close. Tonight we battled these guys but they also played hard and we gave up too many unearned runs. We really only lose two starters so I think we can take the end of this season and use it as a building block.”
Ashley Ridge will graduate five seniors, but only three saw much playing time this season. James Govan is the only pitcher the Swamp Foxes will lose to graduation and the team has as many ninth and tenth-graders on this year’s roster as it does juniors.
“We have some decent pitching but we blew a lot of games this season because of multiple errors so that will be a point of focus in the off season,” Bellush said. “We also need to hit the ball a little better but with us being so young I think that will come around as these guys hit the weight room and gain more experience.”