P-15's excited about opportunity in Southeast Region Tournament despite being short-handed

Ready to roll

By DENNIS BRUNSON
dennis@theitem.com
Posted 8/8/18

The Sumter P-15's will not be at full strength today when they take on Alabama American Legion baseball state champion Troy Post 70 in its opening game in the Southeast Region Tournament at McCrary Park in Asheboro, North Carolina. And should Sumter …

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P-15's excited about opportunity in Southeast Region Tournament despite being short-handed

Ready to roll

Posted

The Sumter P-15's will not be at full strength today when they take on Alabama American Legion baseball state champion Troy Post 70 in its opening game in the Southeast Region Tournament at McCrary Park in Asheboro, North Carolina. And should Sumter make it past the first two days, its roster will be even further depleted.

P-15's head coach Curtis Johnson isn't worried about that situation though.

"I feel good about where we are," said Johnson, whose squad will take on Troy 30 minutes following the completion of the 9:30 a.m. contest between Kentucky state champion Lyon County Post 68 and West Virginia state champion Parkersburg Post 15. "We've worked hard in practice, and we're as ready as we can be to play. We just have to go out and perform and good things can happen."

Sumter will begin play today against 25-6 Troy without infielder Joey Pereira and right-handed pitcher Daniel Twitty. Pereira was hit in the face with a pitch in the opening game of the state tournament against Florence and suffered a broken jaw. There was some hope Pereira, who alternated between third base and second base, might be able to play in the regional, but he was not cleared.

Twitty, who has been used as both a starter and reliever, broke his foot during practice last week and will be unavailable.

If Sumter wins at least one of its first two games in the 8-team, double-elimination tournament, it will be without Lathan Todd for the rest of the way. Todd, a standout pitcher and infielder, has to report to The Citadel this weekend.

The right-handed Todd and fellow righty Rylan Williamson will start the first two games on the mound. As of Tuesday evening though, Johnson just wasn't sure who would be starting today's game.

"I've been going back and forth with it in my head," Johnson said. "I'm just trying to do what I can to put us in the best position to win."

Williamson is 6-1 with a 1.68 earned run average in 50 innings of work, while Todd is 4-3 with a 2.01 ERA in 52 1/3 innings.

Johnson is also pondering how he will set his defensive lineup as well depending on who is on the mound and Pereira being unavailable.

"We've got a lot of different ways we can go," he said. "I'm just trying to figure out the best option."

Sumter made something of a miraculous run to the regional. It was 6-6 at one point and 10-7 after a 9-1 loss to Chapin/Newberry Posts 193/24 in the Palmetto Invitational at Riley Park. The P-15's followed that with three straight victories, including a 9-3 triumph over Troy, in the invitational and ended up playing their way into the state tournament.

"I think when we played Chapin/Newberry that is what turned our season around," said outfielder/designated hitter Bobby Crisp. "I think that got us to start pulling for one another. We got on a roll and were a whole different team."

It swept Hartsville in its first-round series in the state playoffs, earning a matchup against Camden in the second round. The series went five games and Sumter was trailing 4-3 with two outs, no one on base and a 0-2 count on Ryan Moore in the top of the seventh. Moore singled and started a rally that was extended when Williamson reached on a passed ball after swinging at a third strike to load the bases. Crisp came through with a 2-run single on the way to a 6-4 triumph.

The P-15's didn't win the state tournament, losing to C/N. However, since Georgia didn't have a representative for the regional this year, it was determined the South Carolina runner-up would fill that spot. That is Sumter.

"I always knew we were a good team," Moore said. "It always seemed we were one hit, one play away. We finally started playing as a team and supporting one another.

"We have to hit in the clutch, throw strikes and play defense. If we do that, we can be successful."

The other games today will have Florida state champion Tallahassee Post 13 taking on North Carolina champion Wilmington Post 10 at 4:30 p.m. followed by Chapin/Newberry going up against host Randolph County Post 45.

All of Sumter's games will be carried on WWHM-FM 92.3, WWHM-FM 93.3 and WWHM-AM 1290. Today's broadcast is scheduled for an 11:30 a.m. start.