The Lewisville Lions baseball team is far from being ready to run a Class A state championship banner up the school's flagpole, but it is sending out warnings to the other teams in South Carolina's smallest of four classifications.
The latest notification came Friday night on the Lions' diamond. Coming off a spring break tournament championship at Cane Bay High School, Lewisville lived up to the No. 1 state ranking it earned this week by beating the Chesterfield Rams, 10-3.
The Rams are a middle-of-the-pack team this season, not in the same area code as last year's that was the state runner-up to champ Bamberg-Ehrhardt. But this game was seen as a big one for the Lions.
The win assured that Lewisville, 19-3, is this year's region champion no matter what happens in its two games next week.
Junior Chris Skidmore viewed the game as a personal challenge. The Rams beat the Lions in last year's Upper State title game and earned a trip to the best-of-five state championship series.
Skidmore said the thought of what happened has been on his mind all season, and he took out his frustration at the plate, pounding a pair of Rams' pitchers for four hits in four trips. His day included three singles, a double and three RBIs.
"I almost got another at-bat, and after what they did to us last year I was wanting to get another hit,'' Skidmore said. "I mean four-for-four is a good day at the plate, but I would have taken more if I would have had the chance.''
Lewisville ripped 14 hits. Leadoff batter Trevor Hudson had three hits and was plunked by a pitch in four trips.
Starting pitcher Jody Moss also was four-for-four, and catcher Kody Kirkland had a pair of hits. All the hits but Skidmore's double were singles.
The Lions gave up a run in the top of the first on a passed ball. They sent 10 batters to the plate in the last of the second and scored all the runs they would need. The Lions scored four runs on three hits, Skidmore's two-run single, and singles from Moss and Will Robbins. Two hit-batters and a Rams' error kept the frame going.
Chesterfield closed the gap with single runs in the fourth and fifth, the latter scoring the game's only other extra-base hit, Paul Robson's RBI triple.
Lewisville put the game away for good in the sixth, scoring six runs on six hits. The Lions batted around again, this time sending 11 batters to the plate.
Hudson, who led off with a single, batted again in the 10th spot and knocked in Moss with his second hit of the frame.
The Lions defense seemed to feed off the offense. With a big fourth looming for the Rams and with their second run on the board, Trent Allen sent a hit up the middle. Lions centerfielder Corey Thomas fielded the ball and fired a strike to Kirkland, who was standing on the third-base line in front of the plate.
Kelly Butler was running all the way from second and met Kirkland standing in his way with the ball for the tag and second out.
The game was played without head coach Billy Keels, who was on the road scouting a possible playoff opponent. He left assistant Jake Gaston in charge.
"Coach Keels told me he has confidence in me and the guys, and he said he knew they would play hard for me,'' Gaston said. "He said he felt I would make smart decisions and we didn't want to let him down.
"We hit the ball well and have come a long way. But the big play was the throw to the plate in the fourth. If Chesterfield scores, it cuts the score to a run and swings momentum their way with only one out and two runners on. Instead, we made the defensive play of the game when we needed it.''
Zack Boswell, Nick Cook (6) and Kolby Croxton. Jody Moss, Dylan Bogue (5) and Kody Kirkland. W - Moss. L - Boswell. 2B - Chris Skidmore (L) . 3B - Paul Robson (C).
Record - Lewisville 19-3, 10-0 Region 3-A