Originally created 07/14/97

Aiken tops Florence 7-3; Withers picks up third win



AIKEN - Darvin Withers is developing into a star right before the Aiken Post 26 fans' eyes.

Withers (3-0) only allowed one run in 8 2/3 innings of relief in picking up his third win of the series as Aiken defeated Florence, 7-3, to capture a first round American Legion series at J.H. Satcher Field on Sunday night.

Aiken (20-3), which won the series 3-2, will entertain Charleston in Game 1 of a best-of-five Lower State semifinal series on Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. at USC-Aiken. Florence (15-9) concludes its season.

Withers relieved Aiken starter Robbie Conatser (0-0), who was making only his second start of the season, after Florence took a 2-0 lead on a first-inning two-run homer by Tripp Kelly.

Kelly, who is headed to South Carolina, homered in his third consecutive at-bat and fourth time in the series. He hit two home runs in a 6-5 loss in Game 4.

But Withers calmed down the Florence bats and gave his team a chance to win. He picked up all three wins for Post 26 in the series.

"Darvin, I don't know how to put it into words," Post 26 coach Steve Scolamiero said. "Darvin (Withers) was spectacular the whole series. He was the MVP (Most Valuable Player)."

Aiken took the lead for good in the bottom of the fifth with a three-run uprising. RBI singles by Robbie Conatser and Withers highlighted the inning. Florence committed two errors that also helped the home team go up 4-3.

Kyle Langley stretched the Aiken lead to 5-3 in the seventh when he doubled off the wall to drive in Josh Miller.

Aiken added two insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth. Miller, who was intentionally walked three times in the series, drove in a run and Grant Newman scored on a wild pitch.

Withers only allowed one run in 18 innings in the series. He held Kelly hitless in five at-bats and struck him out three times. He won Game 4 in relief on Saturday.

"I was beginning to wonder about that myself," Withers said. "I just think that you have to go after him and that's what I did."

Florence coach Scotty Keefe agreed that Withers was the MVP of the series. He said Aiken is beatable but it has a great chance of repeating as the South Carolina American Legion state champions.

"I guess since they beat us, it would be a great compliment if they won it," Keefe said.