Game one in the books 

Published 11:21 am Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Cardinals claim home win 


LANDRUM—On Monday May 13, the Landrum Cardinals hosted the Oceanside Collegiate Academy Landsharks in the first game of the AA State Championship series. The Cardinals are the number one ranked team in the state representing the Upper State while the Landsharks are the number two team, representing the Lower State.  

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The Cardinals have been fortunate in the build up to the State Championship; they have advanced through the winners’ bracket of every playoff phase this season. The Landsharks have had a longer run of fixtures having advanced through the winners’ bracket initially before being knocked down into the losers’ bracket. The Landsharks were able to string together several crucial wins in the double elimination playoffs that allowed them to compete for the State Championship.  

The Landsharks had to play more total games than the Cardinals; they were 25-7 going into the first game of the State Championship series. The Cardinals had a record of 26-3, having played three games less than the Landsharks. While three games may not sound that significant, it can drastically affect the pitching rotation. The rules in South Carolina regarding pitcher safety maintain that a pitcher who hits his max pitch count, must wait a total of five days before being allowed to pitch again, a factor that may prove to be the deciding factor of the State Championship.  

Taking the mound for the Cardinals in the first inning was Junior Todd Harris. Harris struck the first batter out, the second out came from a ground ball to short stop that was converted at first base and the Cardinals finished the first inning by catching a high ball to center field that was handled easily, preventing the Landsharks from putting a man on base in the first inning. Unfortunately the Cardinals could not capitalize at the plate and the first inning finished with the score still at 0-0 without either team getting on base.  

The second inning is where things picked up in intensity for both sides. The Cardinals were able to get three outs from four batters in the top of the second while only allowing a runner to get to first base. The Landsharks were not so fortunate when they took the field. Junior Cole Williams was able to get himself to second base after a good hit, but it was catcher Turner Sloan who helped bring in the first run. With Williams on second, Sloan hit a line drive down first base that skipped past the first baseman and into the outfield. Sloan got the credit for bringing in Williams for the first run of the game; a base runner replaced Sloan at second. After the Cardinal on second attempted to steal third base a huge error from the Landsharks saw them overthrow the third baseman which allowed the runner to steal home giving the Cardinals a 2-0 lead going into the third inning.  

The top of the third inning saw the Landsharks finally advance a runner past first base. With two outs already a ball hit into left field allowed the Landshark runner to get to second base before being forced to stop, it proved futile as the next batter hit a pop fly that was easily caught to get the third out. The Cardinals had a double play go against them in the bottom of the third inning leaving the score line at 2-0 before the fourth inning.  

The Cardinals took to the field in the top of the fourth inning with clear confidence and smiles. Todd Harris continued to put in another impressive effort from the pitchers mound closing out the inning leaving runners stranded at first and second. With the game just past the half way point, the Landsharks had not been able to advance a runner past second base, and had not looked like a serious threat to score.  

In the top of the fifth inning the Cardinals were able to catch a runner in a “pickle” but a controversial call went against them. The Cardinals had put a Landshark runner into a “pickle” and as the runner made the sprint to second base he made solid contact with the Cardinals short stop, the short stop was in possession of the ball but dropped it during the impact with the runner. The official gave the call in favor of the runner allowing him to take second baseCardinals Head Coach Daniel Little took to the field to have a chat with the official to get some clarification on the decision but the play was allowed to stand. The official’s call did not punish the Cardinals, as they were once again able to get the final out without letting a Landshark runner reach third base.  

The bottom of the fifth saw the Landsharks make an interesting decision to intentionally walk senior Zander Steele rather than give him an opportunity at the plate. The Landsharks were able to hold on and keep the score 2-0 at the bottom of the fifth.   

The sixth inning once again proved unfruitful for both teams. The Cardinals were able to prevent the Landsharks from even getting a runner on first base. The Landsharks narrowly avoided giving up a run after the Cardinals strategically placed a man on third base by sacrificing an out from a bunt towards first base. The Landsharks field crew was able to contain a low driven ball and make the out at first base before the Landrum runner could reach home plate.  

As the Cardinals took the field in the top of the seventh inning they were in complete control of the game. If the Cardinals could prevent the Landsharks from scoring two or more runs they would win the first game of the series without having to play the bottom of the seventh (their at bat phase)With one out and the game to play for, the Landrum Coaching staff made the decision to swap Todd Harris and John Siary on the pitchers mound. Siary took the mound in the middle of a batter who had already been pitched two balls and no strikes.  

Siary walked his first batter but the second was not so fortunate, the Landshark hit a ball directly at third baseman Zander Steele who made the catch and picked up the second out. With two outs and a runner first the Landsharks got a big break. The Landsharks hit a ball deep into center field, perfectly placed between the outfield players that allowed them to put a man on third base for the first time in the game. The Cardinals were still in control but looked a little uneasy after giving up a two base hit in the seventh. With a runner on first and third the Landsharks hit yet another ball into the center of the field allowing the runner on third to score but forcing the man at first to shoot for second. In a moment of confusion, nervousness, or a bit of both, the Landshark runner on second base overshot the plate, running several feet past it as he rounded the base heading towards third. Landrum players surrounded him and tagged him with the ball while he was off the plate. The runner was called out by the central official to the delight of Cardinal players and fans. The Landrum dug out exploded out onto the pitch and the Cardinals threw their gloves and hats in celebration.  

The Landsharks first base coach and third base coach were clearly frustrated with the call but that didn’t change the umpires mind. The final score line read 2-1 in the Cardinals favor, giving them a crucial win the State Championship series. The Cardinals were fortunate to host the first game and had a huge turn out from fans. Landrum and Campobello police officers had to help direct parking and traffic getting into the parking lot.   

The Cardinals travel to Mt. Pleasant on Wednesday to play at Oceanside Collegiate Academy in the second game of the championship series. If the Cardinals can get the win at Oceanside they will become the 2019 AA South Carolina State Champions, if they are forced into play game three it well be held at a neutral ground on Saturday May 18. If the Cardinals are forced into play game three, the five-day recovery window will be over for their starting pitcher Todd Harris who would be available again for game three. The Cardinals have improved their overall record to a phenomenal 27-3 on the season. 

By Samuel Robinson