Charleston Post 166 needed all five games to put away its first playoff opponent in the American Legion baseball playoffs.
Post 166 scored four runs in the first inning and starting pitcher Dalton Godin threw six-plus innings as Charleston edged visiting Horry Post 111, 5-3, in the decisive game of the second-round series on July 19 at Cane Bay High School.
Post 166, which received an opening-round bye, tangles with Sumter Post 15 in a best-of-5 series for a spot in the state’s final four starting Monday, July 22 (after press time). Games 1, 3 and 5 are slated for Cane Bay at 7 p.m.
“Sumter is a measuring stick,” Post 166 coach David Horton said. “If you want to be considered good at American Legion baseball, see how you stack up against those guys.”
Horton knows the Post 15 program well. He was an assistant to Curtis Johnson from 2010-13 and also coached seven years at Sumter High School, 2007-13.
“Curtis is a great friend of mine,” Horton said. “I know that place like the back of my hand. I know how they do things. It’s a great program.”
Sumter (21-8) beat Aiken in four games in the second round to advance. Each team might have a bit of a read on the other. They met in Sumter July 8 and Post 166 picked up a 1-0 win in a six-inning game.
Post 166 is 13-7 after surviving a pesky Horry team. It didn’t help the League 1 champion it was missing several key players for the series. Charleston should be back to almost full strength for the Sumter series.
“The ones that were missing were on vacations,” Horton said. “It wasn’t like they were just sitting at home listening to the radio. They were legitimately out of town but the ones who showed up battled.”
Post 166 got out of the gates in a hurry in Game 5 against Horry, plating four runs in the bottom of the first. Kris Blanco doubled over the centerfielder’s head to knock in the first two runs and Josh Davis followed with a RBI single to make it 3-0.
Davis stole home on a throw to second with two outs, giving Godin a comfortable margin to work with.
“It was huge to put those runs up on the board early,” Horton said.
Post 111, which won Games 1 and 4 in the series, scratched for single runs in the second and third innings to cut its deficit in half but Godin settled in nicely.
Post 166’s bats were mostly quiet the rest of the way, too, but John Shelton’s RBI single in the bottom of the sixth provided some insurance.
Horry made things interesting in the top of the seventh after Godin recorded the first out.
An error and back-to-back singles loaded the bases and Godin gave way to Will McGuire, who coaxed a grounder to shortstop that scored a run and fanned the last batter with the tying runs on second and third.
It was a great rebound for Godin, a rising CBHS sophomore who took the Game 1 loss in Horry’s 7-1 win.
“I took him out at 72 pitches on Monday because I said if it goes five games, I can bring him back on Friday,” Horton said. “I know he’s a young guy with not a lot of varsity experience but he just competes. You can’t ask for any more from a young guy in this situation.”
Horton credited catcher Travis Lott for calling the pitches. Lott is a Citadel signee who was an all-star for Stratford as a senior.
“It was hard for me to turn that over but I trust Travis,” Horton said. “He’s done a tremendous job, especially with the younger guys.”
Godin allowed nine hits and worked through a couple jams, while striking out three batters. One of the three runs allowed was earned.
Charleston eliminated Horry from the playoffs for the second straight season.