CHESTER -- Post 27 coach Dennis Jenson admits that Monday's 8-5 victory over Inman Post 45 in the opening round of the American Legion playoffs was far from his team's best performance.
"We did not play very well," Jenson said. "Both of our pitchers fell behind early in the count, and also, we walked quite a few and made several errors. But this was a big win and we'll take it. This is a good one to get under our belts."
Chester yielded six walks and committed two errors, and that contributed to Inman grabbing a 2-0 lead in the top of the third. Chester eventually settled down behind a 12-hit attack and grabbed a 5-2 lead in the bottom of the fourth. Inman closed the deficit to one in the top of the fifth, but Chester matched that output with two in the bottom of the inning. Both teams added single runs in the seventh before Post 27 handed the ball to its closer, Jay Guidry, who shut down Post 45 in the final two innings.
Guidry faced the final seven hitters. He recorded two strikeouts and yielded only one hit to seal the deal for Chester, which captured its 12th straight victory and improves to 14-2 overall. Post 27 starter Chris Thomas, who improves to 4-0 on the mound, went 7 2-3 innings and recorded two strikeouts.
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Offensively, Chester got a torrid performance from Ben Roberts, who went 2-for-3 with a single, a triple and two RBIs. Kody Clack went 3-for-4 with five RBIs, including a two-run single in the bottom of the third that tied the contest, 2-2. Roberts, Clack and Kyle Heffner delivered RBI singles during the three-run, fourth-inning rally.
Roberts and Clack continued to do offensive damage in the fifth with an RBI triple and RBI single, respectively. Clack delivered the final Post 27 insurance run with an RBI single in the bottom of the seventh.
Jenson said that the rough start may be the result of pregame jitters, especially with Chester not having won its league championship in 13 years.
"We also have not had a lot of players who have been in the playoffs last season. So, for many, this is their first taste of the Legion playoffs. So maybe we were a bit nervous."
However, Jenson did acknowledge the talent of Inman Post 45, who brings a solid tradition into the post season.
"They have kids from Boiling Springs, who won the Class-AAAA state championship this season, and also, players from Landrum, who won the Class-A state championship in 2007, and went deep into the playoffs this season."
Now with a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series, Chester will travel to Inman tonight for Game 2. The third game will return to the Chester Baseball Stadium on Wednesday. The first pitch for both games is slated for 7 p.m.