By CT McDonald
There is a new baseball championship team based here in the midlands, and its home is west of the Saluda River in Lexington County.
West Columbia Post 79 won the South Carolina American League Baseball Summer League (SCALBSL) state championship in a four-team tournament of finalist at Columbia’s Segra Park over the weekend.
Post 79, Sumter, Greer and Fort Mill advanced to the state tournament with their second round three-game series wins earlier in the week.
West Columbia won its best-of-three series against Florence Post 1 last week with the tiebreaker Game 3 win at West Columbia Wednesday night. Game 1, scheduled for Monday at West Columbia, had been postponed until Tuesday at Florence because a Post 79 player had tested positive for the coronavirus, not because of weather, as reported in this publication last week.
The tiebreaker win advanced Post 79 to Friday’s first round of the double elimination tournament with, then, undefeated Greer the opponent. West Columbia won that one 12-8 and moved on to Round 2 against Fort Mill on Saturday.
Post 79 won that one, too. It was 8-4 to advance West Columbia to Sunday’s state title game needing to win only one game against the yet to be determined opponent at that time.
It was Greer again, and this time the Warhawks needed to beat Post 79 twice to win the title. They defeated Fort Mill 8-2 in the 11:05 am Sunday elimination game to advance to the state title game against Post 79 at 1:35 pm. The elimination game had been scheduled for Saturday afternoon, but it was postponed because of weather.
West Columbia needed only one game to win the state championship 7-1, with Post 79’s Dylan Williamson pitching 5 and 2/3 innings before Greer scored a single run in the top of the sixth inning. Williamson had pitched for West Columbia in only one game before the state tournament final.
Sims Owens wrapped it up for Post 79 to hold Greer to one run after a scoreless bottom of the sixth and top of the seventh.
Post 79 jumped out ahead in the first inning 1-0, and followed with two runs in the second and four in the third. Kameron Dunlap, Bradley Turner and Owens each recorded two hits, and Josh Wise and Blake Palyok each got a hit. Owens had three RBIs, Dunlap had two, and Wise had one.
SCALBSL participants and organizers look forward to the return of the official American Legion Baseball season next year, but if it doesn’t happen it appears that the independent league can get it done.