By DENNIS BRUNSON
Item Sports Editor
The Sumter High School varsity baseball team had a nice run of it over the weekend, winning three of four games and finishing third in the Red Bank Invitational at White Knoll High in Lexington.
So what do the Gamecocks get for a reward this week as they open the regular season? A home game against Blythewood, which beat them 11-1 on Friday in the invitational, today and a home game against A.C. Flora, which they beat 5-4 on Sunday, before traveling to West Florence on Friday to open Region VI-4A play.
“We’ve developed a little camaraderie with those guys,” said SHS head coach Brooks Shumake, whose team’s game against Blythewood begins at 6:30 p.m. “We’ve been knowing them through the years and the type of programs they have. We know it is going to be good competition.”
Shumake was pleased with the way his team held up in the invitational, especially with three pitchers he’s counting on to play major roles this season — right-handers Tyler Smith and lefty Jordan Montgomery — unable to pitch.
“We went 3-1, so there was only one more game that we could have won and that would have given us the championship,” Shumake said. “So I’m pretty happy with that.”
The Gamecocks opened the tournament with a 7-2 victory over Lexington on Thursday before losing to Blythewood. They followed it with a 6-4 win over Dutch Fork on Saturday and Sunday’s win over A.C. Flora.
Righty Bruce Caldwell picked up the win on the mound against Lexington and righty Josh Kisamore got the victory against Dutch Fork. Stephen Curtis got the win against A.C. Flora. Also, Michael Blackmon, who hasn’t pitched any since playing in the Sumter County Recreation Department’s 13-14 year-old league, worked about four or five innings, according to Shumake.
“Michael did a great job, getting in there and getting people out,” Shumake said. “We’ve had him throwing some bullpens just in case we needed him. Kisamore did a good job for us.”
Blackmon and Caldwell were both named to the all-tournament team. First baseman Justin Till was named to the tournament’s all-academic team.
While happy with the start, Shumake isn’t reading anything into the performance.
“I’m pleased that we were able to find a way to win,” he said. “There’s still a lot of work we have to do though. We’ve got to continue to work on the fundamentals in all phases of the game.”
Either Kisamore or righty Jeremy Buckner, who started and suffered the loss against Blythewood, will start on the mound today. Whoever doesn’t start is expected to start against Flora on Thursday.