AIKEN - U-G-L-Y.
There's not a better word that aptly describes Aiken Post 26's 25-15 victory over St. George Post 105 (7-6) Wednesday night at Satcher Field in game one of the League 4 playoffs. Mercifully, the game was called in the seventh inning when Emmanuel Felton scored Aiken's final run on a balk by Darrel Davis.
Post 26 (12-4) takes a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series into tonight's game two at St. George. First pitch is set for 7 p.m.
In a game that featured five balks, 12 errors, 16 walks and 9 pitchers, just escaping with everyone alive is a miracle in itself. Aiken coach Bruce Zuehlke couldn't remember being part of such a sloppy affair.
"You're not going to get an uglier game," Zuehlke said. "Our pitching was awful. The good thing was whenever they scored runs we came right back. Good teams answer runs."
After three innings, Post 26 was in complete command with a 9-2 lead. Then starting pitcher Travis Traxler was relieved by Josh Herlong in the fourth. When Herlong left 2 2/3 innings later, Post 105 had scrambled its way back into the game. Aiken entered its half of the sixth inning clinging to a 13-12 lead.
Post 26 answered with five runs in the inning to build a comfortable 18-12 lead before Post 105 used a two-run, seventh-inning homer by Ryan Trotter to narrow the lead to 18-15.
Aiken sealed the game by capitalizing on the revolving door that was St. George's pitching staff. Jonathan Nelson singled to open the bottom of the seventh. John Rooks followed with a double before Richard Thompson grounded out.
The next four Aiken batters were walked, forcing home three runs. Felton then picked up his fifth hit of the game and drove in his seventh run with a single. A sacrifice fly by Derrick Haltiwanger and a single by Jonathan Nelson gave Post 26 a 24-15 lead.
Finally, after more than 3 hours, Felton came home and the massacre was over. Felton said he began sweating when Post 105 got within a run in the sixth inning.
"When we were up by seven and they started coming back I started getting scared," Felton said.
Post 26's 17 hits may be the only highlight for Zuehlke who saw his pitching staff ransacked.
"It ended ugly, it played ugly, it even started ugly," Zuehlke said. "I told my team it was ugly but we're up 1-0."
St. George - 020 037 3 - 15 17 5
Aiken - 207 045 7 - 25 17 7
Mathew Thompson (LP 1-2), Bubba Brown (4), Brandon Berry (5), Andy Green (6), Darrel Davis (7) and Tripp Gaillard. Travis Traxler, Josh Herlong (4, WP), Brian Waack (6), Joseph Meyer (7) and Demetrick Drumming.