Pathfinders offense explodes on Post 79
Richland Post 6 pitcher Russell Gahagen threw 5- 1/3 innings giving up two earned runs on five hits. He struck out six batters. Joseph O'Steen came on in relief in the sixth inning for Gahagen allowing just two hits and no earned runs.
Alex Nettles started on the mound for West Columbia Post 79. Nettles threw for 4- 2/3 innings giving up five earned runs on seven hits. He struck out two batters. Ken Smoak relieved Nettles in the fifth inning giving up six hits, which included a home run, and four earned runs. Smoak did strike out three Richland batters before Matthew Boulware relieved him to get the final two outs in the top of the ninth inning.
Nettles started out strong. After giving up a lead off single to Kurt Stoudenmire, he was able to get the next three batters out with help from a diving catch by left fielder Derek Cushman of Kyle George's line shot.
In the bottom half of the inning, Nettles got a little offensive help. After the first two batters failed to reach a base, Todd Joyner got on with a walk. Ryan Burt was hit by a pitch, giving West Columbia Post 79 runners on first and second. Tyler Sturkie then singled allowing Joyner to score, but Burt was picked off at second, allowing Gahagen to end the inning.
The Pathfinders responded in the top of the second. Raymond Prince reached on an error. He moved to second when Corey Young walked on four straight pitches. A single from David Houser brought Prince in and moved Young into scoring position. Rush Tompkins then laid down a sacrifice bunt, moving both runners into scoring position. Young scored when Nettles threw a wild pitch, giving Richland Post 6 a 2- 1 lead. Nettles was able to strike the next two batters out.
Both Nettles and Gahagen were able to get out of the third inning with out any damage. But the Pathfinders extended their lead in the top of the fourth. Young walked and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Then Houser moved Young to third on a ground out to Nettles. Nettles then hit Tompkins with a pitch. Tompkins purposely got caught in a run down allowing Young to score from third. Richland Post 6 led 3- 1 going into the bottom of the fourth.
With West Columbia Post 79 unable to cut into the lead, the Pathfinders blew the game wide open with a five- run fifth inning. It began with two straight walks to Brett Fulmer and Stoudenmire. Then Ryan Mercer laid down a bunt single, to load the bases. George scored both Fulmer and Stoudenmire with a single, giving Richland Post 6 a 5- 1 lead.
After David Greene popped out, Prince brought in Mercer with a shot to center field. George took home on an errant throw and Prince advanced to third, extending the lead to 7- 1.
Despite a pitching change by West Columbia Post 79 that sent Smoak to the mound, the scoring didn't stop. Young scored Prince on a squeeze bunt extending the lead to 8- 1. With runners in scoring position, the Pathfinders were on the verge of scoring even more runs, but a ground out by Stoudenmire ended the inning.
Dylan Parker led off with a double in the bottom of the fifth inning for West Columbia that bounced over the left center field fence. Derek Cushman followed with a single to score Parker cutting the Richland lead to 8- 2.
The score stayed 8- 2 until the bottom of the seventh. After two quick outs by West Columbia Post 79, Zach Sharpe reached on an error. Lucas Knight followed with a single to right field scoring Sharpe. Knight advanced to second on the throw home.
Cody Bessinger then reached on error advancing to second base and scoring Knight to cut the Richland lead to 8- 4.
The Pathfinders put the game out of reach in the top of the eighth. Mercer was hit by a pitch. Then, after a pop up by George, David Greene blasted a two- run home run over the center field fence to extend the lead to 10- 4 and all but ended the hopes of a comeback for West Columbia Post 79.
Richland Post 6 added two more runs in the top of the ninth. Brett Fulmer's double to left field scored Houser and Stoudenmire's single to right field scored Fulmer giving Richland the 12- 4 lead.
O'Steen struck out two West Columbia batters in the bottom of the ninth to end the game.
Houser went 3- for- 4 for Richland with a run and an RBI. Prince finished 2- for- 5 with two runs and an RBI. Stoudenmire was 2- for- 5 with a run and an RBI. George had a hit with a run and two RBIs. Greene had a home run with a run and two RBIs. Young scored two runs and Fulmer had a hit with two runs and an RBI.
Burt went 2- for- 3 for West Columbia. Knight had a hit with a run and an RBI. Bessinger, Sturkie, and Cushman each had an RBI.