Naturchem Invitational ends with two undefeated teams
If Mother Nature was the “official” champion of the 2019 Naturchem Invitational, River Bluff was one of the fourth annual tournament’s “unofficial” winners.
The Gators completed an undefeated three-game run at the event Sunday with a 7-1 victory over Sumter in five innings. All-Tournament team selection Ricky Williams and Preston Sansone both drove in two runs and William Chastain pitched three scoreless innings after allowing the Gators’ only run in the three victories.
River Bluff joined North Augusta as the tournament’s only 3-0 teams.
River Bluff answered Sumter in the Bottom second with Sansone’s two-run single. The Gators added three runs in the third on an RBI single by Noah LeBron. William’s added an RBI fielder’s choice. Jacob Lebron also scored on an error.
Jack Benedict pitched a scoreless fifth inning for River Bluff, who still batted in the bottom half of the inning to close the game. River Bluff finished the Invitational having outscored Belton-Honea Path (10-0), Camden (3-0) and Sumter by a 20-1 margin.
“The thing we did this weekend is that we pitched well,” River Bluff head coach Mark Bonnette said. “We gave up one run in three games. We’ve got a lot of shoes to fill from the past couple of years and then we had some guys step up on the mound and we wanted to see what they could do and they threw strikes, they competed, and we played really good defense all weekend. So we fielded groundballs, made the routine plays and, when you do that, you give yourselves a chance.”
The two-time defending Class 5A Lower State champions will continue non-region play over next two weeks. River Bluff will have two games against defending SCISA Class 3A champion Cardinal Newman, led by former White Knoll head coach Charles Assey, and two against North Augusta.
The Gators open Region 5-5A play March 18 in The Swamp against Dutch Fork.
“It’s so important for us to play good people because our region is so good top to bottom,” Bonnette said. “Every night, it’s going to be a playoff atmosphere. It’s going to be a battle and now, with a three-game series, it’s going to be really competitive. So this helps us by facing good pitching, good teams, so this definitely prepares us for what’s coming.”
Camden 8, Airport 6
The Eagles rallied twice against the Bulldogs, but gave up four runs in the Top sixth to take the loss.
Airport was up 2-0 in the Top third when Camden responded with four runs to take the lead. The Eagles tied the game in the Bottom third after Cam Beckham drove in a run on a single and scored on an error.
Airport reclaimed the lead in the Bottom fifth when Brandon Caughman and Blake Palyok both scored on errors by Camden pitcher Tate Abbott.
Camden loaded the bases in the Top sixth and scored three runs off two wild pitches by Airport starter Blake Morrison, an error by Caughman at first base by Caughman and an RBI single.
The Eagles finished the Invitational with a 1-1-1 mark.
Lexington 7, Belton-Honea Path 0
The Wildcats and Bears completed the unfinished opening contest on Sunday.
Leading the contest 6-0 in the Bottom second before it was stopped due to rainfall, Lexington added a run the Bottom sixth when Landon McMahon scored on a wild pitch.
Will Wicker and Tristan Allen picked up from Elijah Ogden’s start against Belton-Honea Path and combined to strike out six batters and each allow a hit in five innings.
Lexington finished 2-1 at the Invitational, defeating Sumter (2-1) and Belton-Honea Path and losing to Lugoff-Elgin (6-3).
North Augusta 4, Lugoff-Elgin 0
The Yellow Jackets complete a 3-0 showing at the Invitational with victories over Camden (3-1), Belton-Honea Path (4-2) and the Demons.
OTHER SUNDAY RESULTS
Cheraw 3, Pelion 1
The Panthers took a 1-0 lead after Gage Goodwin drove home Alex Pegues in the Top first.
The Braves answered back with 3 runs in the Bottom 1st, then held Pelion scoreless the rest of the way to claim 5th place at the Coastal Invitational Tournament
Pelion finished with a 1-3 mark at the event.
Naturchem Invitational organizer Jeff Parsons (middle) with All-Tournament team selections Ricky Williams of River Bluff and Sebastian Ducom of Sumter.