By Thomas Grant Jr.
West Columbia Post 79 and Chapin-Newberry Post 193/24 began play in the South Carolina American Baseball playoffs.
This year’s opening round is a double elimination format with the top teams earning a trip to Florence for the state tournament taking place July 18-23 at Francis Marion University.
West Columbia opened in the division at Anderson Post 14. It broke open the game with 4 runs in the sixth and seventh innings.
Peyton Starkey of Gray Collegiate Academy accounted for four runs on two hits during those two innings. Mason Turner and Robert McMillian also both drove in two runs and Corbin Wright of Airport was 2-4 with an RBI.
With the win, West Columbia had a day to await its next opponent. It would face either Easley or League III champion Camden on Wednesday.
In the Upstate region, Chapin/Newberry was also involved in the waiting game Wednesday. In Post 193/24’s case, it awaited the loser of Tuesday’s game between Richland Post 215 and Greenwood Post 20 in an elimination game.
Chapin/Newberry fell 4-2 to Greer Post 115 4-2 on Monday. Cooper Raines put Post 193/24 on the board with an RBI walk in the second inning.
After Greer took a 2-1 lead in the bottom half of the second, Vincent Santostefano tied the game with a leadoff solo home run in the top of the fourth.
Greer broke the tie with two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning.
End of regular season
The South Carolina American Legion baseball season ended in different fashion Thursday for both West Columbia Post 79 and Chapin/Newberry Post 193/24.
In the end, however, the two teams finished tied for third place each with 5-7 marks in League III.
West Columbia began the day with a rain makeup against Lexington Post 7. Although the game was at Brookland-Cayce High School, Post 7 was the designated home team.
The game saw three ties and two lead changes in the first six innings. In the top of the seventh, Corbin Wright of Airport broke the 4-4 tie with a go-ahead two-run single.
Mason Turner of Brookland-Cayce, who relieved Josh Raines in the third inning, got the final three outs for the 6-4 victory. The win not only clinched a share of third place for West Columbia but assured it would open the playoffs Monday in that position since it owned the head-to-head tiebreaker with Chapin/Newberry.
As West Columbia prepared for its second game Thursday against League III front-runner Camden Post 17, Chapin-Newberry found itself trailing second-place Richland 3-0 after two innings at Newberry College.
After scoring a run off a balk in the bottom half of the second, Post 193/24 erupted for eight runs in the third inning. It pushed the lead out to as many as eight runs before taking the 12-6 win.
Brady Yarborough went 2-4 with 2 RBI, Paul Taylor drove in two runs and Landon Kahl and Matthew Rollison both went 2-3 for Post 193/24.
Richland’s loss helped Camden clinch the League III title. It then proceeded to shut out West Columbia 6-0 behind a combined 2-hitter thrown by starter Mason Williams, who struck out 10 in five innings, and Riley Ward, who threw two perfect innings.
Photo: West Columbia Post 79’s Peyton Starkey slides across home plate