South Aiken wins Lower State qualifier
South Aiken’s golf team continued its winning ways Monday, capturing the Lower State qualifier with a team total of 288 in Sumter.
“We thought we had a good chance coming in to today,” said South Aiken head coach Drew Jernigan, whose team is the Region 5-AAAA champion. “We’ve been playing pretty well of late, and they all played pretty well today.”
South Aiken finished four strokes ahead of second place team Ashley Ridge. Jake Carter anchored the tam with his round of 67 which earned him individual medalist honors at the tournament.
“It felt really good today; that’s the first time I’ve shot under par in a while,” said Carter, who was averaging 75 on the season. Everything was really working today. I had five birdies and two bogeys. I was hitting my tee shots really well.”
The other golfers on the team put in a solid performance as well. Ryan Carpenter shot 70, Hayden Ploeger posted 75 and Alex Handy finished with 76.
The Thoroughbreds are riding a wave of success heading into the state championship tournament. South Aiken captured the Region 5-AAAA title recently and followed that victory with a win in the prestigious Southern Cross tournament at Palmetto Golf Club. The Lower State qualifier marks the third consecutive tournament victory for the team.
The Thoroughbreds will return to action next week when they compete in the state tournament will be held Monday and Tuesday at Furman University in Greenville.
Joining South Aiken and Ashley Ridge next week will be Wando, which was third at 306, Lexington (fourth at 312) as well as West Florence and Summerville, who tied for fifth at 315. Sumter, Fort Dorchester and Bluffton all tied at 316, with the Gamecocks winning a playoff hole to clinch the final spot in the state tournament.
The battle for the final four spots were really close. After the three teams at 316, North Augusta and West Ashley both shot 317, Carolina Forest 318 and Aiken 320. The final three teams were Conway at 336, Stratford at 350 and Cane Bay at 388. This tournament marks the end of the high school season for the golfers from Aiken and North Augusta.
South Aiken 1
Playing in the winners’ draw of the Lower State playoff bracket, South Aiken fell behind early against Lexington and made some critical mistakes that cost it in a 4-1 loss. The Thoroughbreds (19-10) struggled to find a rhythm against Lexington left-handed pitcher Josh Reagan, who improved to 9-0 on the season with the win.
“He had us on our heels early in the game,” South Aiken head coach Bob Polewski said. “We started getting to him a little and scored a run in the seventh.”
It wasn’t enough as the T-Breds lost to the Wildcats for the third time in as many tries this season. They lost 6-2 back on April 2 in a game that was much closer than the final score indicates thanks to a late surge by Lexington. The teams played again a week later but the outcome remained the same as South Aiken lost 3-2.
In many regards, the T-Breds played well enough to win Monday’s matchup, but a costly error was too much to overcome. Down 1-0, South Aiken starting pitcher Jamie Morlan had battled out of tight jams before facing another with two runners on. He induced a grounder to third, but the throw to second was well off target allowing two unearned runs to come home.
“You’ve got to play a clean game,” Polewski said. “At this point, a mistake at any time can be costly. A play here or a play there makes the difference.”
South Aiken still has a chance to get revenge against Lexington, but it must defeat Sumter again. The T-Breds will play host to the elimination game on Wednesday, with a time for first pitch still to be determined. They beat the Gamecocks 6-1 on Saturday.
USC Aiken men ranked 25th in latest poll
The USC Aiken men’s tennis team was ranked 25th in the latest NCAA Division II Campbell/ITA rankings. Making its 11th appearance in the NCAA Tournament this season, USCA closed out its 2013 campaign with an 11-9 overall record.