High School Sports

Chester lives to fight tonight

GREENWOOD -- In Wednesday's American Legion playoff game against Greenwood at Legion Stadium, Chester had just 11 players available.

Unfortunately for Greenwood, one of those was pitcher Drew Thompson.

Thompson threw a complete game, allowing four runs (three earned) on six hits and three walks in a 5-4 Chester victory. The win staved off elimination for Chester, which trails the best-of-five playoff series 2-1.

The two teams will play Game 4 in Chester tonight where Greenwood will again try to close out the first-round series.

Post 20 had a good chance to close it out in three straight. Trailing 5-4 in the bottom of the ninth, Greenwood loaded the bases with two outs. But Drew Willingham flied a 1-1 pitch into the glove of Chester center fielder Ben Roberts to end the game.

"I was scared to death," Thompson said. "I was just hoping everything was working, hoping they would pop it up."

Thompson also pitched with the tying run on base in the seventh and eighth innings but both times, he was able to exit the inning with a 5-4 lead. In the seventh, Post 20 left two men on and stranded one runner in the eighth.

That underlines a somewhat disturbing trend for Greenwood in this playoff series. In winning the first two games, Post 20 was propelled by big innings, but in each of those innings, Greenwood's bats had little to do with the runs. Post 20 scored six runs Monday in the sixth inning on just one hit.

In Tuesday's 11-4 win, Greenwood scored seven runs in the third thanks to three Chester errors.

"One thing that happened tonight was Chester caught the baseball," Greenwood coach Billy Bean Minor said. "They didn't give us extra outs, and they did a good job."

Behind Thompson, good defense was crucial. The Chester right-hander struck out just one, but behind an effective changeup, recorded 16 groundball outs.

With almost all of the groundballs finding Chester gloves, hits were scarce for Post 20. To advance to the second round of the playoffs, big hits are going to have to become less of a rarity for Greenwood.

Solving that problem, Minor said, is a matter of simply getting back to basics.

"We work in the cage and all, and that's what we've got to keep doing," Minor said. "We've just got to have good fundamentals."