By DENNIS BRUNSON
Item Sports Editor
SUMMERVILLE — Sumter High School only had three hits in its winners bracket game in the District VIII tournament of the 4A state playoffs against Summerville on Saturday at the Summerville field. That didn't mean the Gamecocks didn't have runners on base, however.
SHS left nine runners on base, hit into a double play with the bases loaded and had a baserunning mistake that cost it as it dropped a 5-3 decision to the Green Wave.
The loss means Sumter will travel to Moncks Corner on Monday to face Berkeley at 7 p.m. in an elimination game. Berkeley, which Sumter beat 5-1 on Thursday, beat Richland Northeast 15-0 on Saturday to stay alive and knock RNE out of the tournament.
The game was originally scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. but didn't start until almost 8 because of a heavy storm that came through in the afternoon. Once the game did start, there was a human rain delay as the game took almost three hours to play.
The Gamecocks, who fell to 20-7 on the season, only had one hit through the first fix innings before getting two in the seventh. Summerville starting pitcher Pat Dolan walked nine batters, however, including Stephen Curtis and
Tyler Smith three times each, and hit another, but he was able to get himself out of most of the jams.
"We just didn't cash in when we had the opportunities," said SHS head coach Brooks Shumake. "We just weren't able to get the hits when we needed to. We just left the runners on base."
Bruce Caldwell got SHS's first hit in the third inning, and it was a 2-run home run that put the Gamecocks on top 2-1. Sumter had Dolan on the ropes at that point, but couldn't deliver the knockout punch.
Dolan, who worked 6-plus innings and threw close to 140 pitches, walked Matt Price, Curtis and Smith after Caldwell's homer to load the bases with one out. Dolan struck out Tony Micklon and Stephen Stafford, however, to get out of the jam.
After Summerville rallied for a 3-2 lead with two runs in the fourth, Sumter had a rally going in the sixth when Bryan McDaniel reached on an error and Matt King walked to bring the top of the order up with one out. The inning came to an end, however, when a ball went off the glove of Summerville catcher Brett Wheeler and pinch runner Cam Martin broke for third before deciding to return to second. King was heading to second, however, and Sumter ended up with two runners on the bag. King was tagged out and Michael Blackmon struck out to end the inning.
In the top of the seventh, Sumter loaded the bases with no outs against the right-handed Dolan on a sharply hit infield single by Caldwell, a walk to Price and a single by Curtis. Summerville changed pitchers as left-hander Aaron Bouronich took the mound.
Bouronich got Smith to hit a one-hopper to Dolan, who had moved to third on the switch. Dolan stepped on third and threw to first on the double play as the run scored to make it 5-3. Micklon grounded out to end the game.
Summerville, which improved to 17-7, got on the scoreboard first, pushing across a run in the bottom of the first against Smith, the Sumter starter. Leadoff hitter Brandon Millhouse led off with an infield single and moved to second on an out. After Dolan walked, Brett Wheeler singled up the middle to score Millhouse.
The runners moved up to a base on the throw to the plate, but Smith left them standing there by striking out the next two batters.
Smith never got into a groove in his 3-plus innings, but allowed just two runs. He gave up four hits and walked four while striking out six. He left the bases loaded in the third with no runs scoring.
When Smith walked the leadoff batter in the fourth, Sumter decided to bring on Curtis to pitch. After retiring the first three batters he faced, Curtis gave up three straight hits, including RBI singles by Tyler Fletcher and Dolan to give the Green Wave a 3-2 advantage.
"That decision to go get Tyler was one we made because he had been laboring a bit," Shumake said. "He hadn't given up much, but he was laboring. That's one of those baseball decisions you just have to make."
Summerville, which won't play again until Wednesday when it will take on the Sumter-Berkeley winner at home, got its other two runs in the sixth. Jacob Webb's 2-out, bases-loaded single gave the Wave a 3-run cushion.