Senior Softball - Miners finish third at League Championships

  • Members of the LC Miners and the Dahlonega Gold shake hands after the Miners defeated the Gold in the first round of the Clayton League Championship tournament last week.
    Members of the LC Miners and the Dahlonega Gold shake hands after the Miners defeated the Gold in the first round of the Clayton League Championship tournament last week.
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The Seniors of Swing, Lumpkin County’s two senior softball teams the Lumpkin County Miners and the Dahlonega Gold, concluded their 2019 Clayton League season when they participated in the league championship tournament at the Parker Meadows Softball Complex in Franklin, N.C. on Wednesday, Oct. 2.
After becoming the Sal DeVito Division regular season champions, the LC Miners (24-10) found themselves facing off with the division’s last place team, the Dahlonega Gold (1-33), in the first round of the championship tournament.
The Gold, looking primed to pull an upset, got off to a fast start when they scored four runs in the top of the first inning against the Miners.
LC starting pitcher Larry “The Rocket” Rodgers watched as the Gold rattled off six straight hits to begin the game.
Dahlonega’s Jim “Junkyard Dog” Ehlers started the inning off with a single to left field. Steve Dupree moved Ehlers to third with a double, giving the Gold two runners in scoring position. Mike “Walloping” Williams promptly knocked in Ehlers with a RBI infield single to short when LC first baseman John “Da Boss” Daley was unable to hold on to the throw to first by Wayne “Got Em” Gaddis. Williams’ RBI hit gave the Gold a 1-0 lead and runners at the corners. Frank “Put Em Up” Pellegrino followed with a RBI single to centerfield, upping the lead to 2-0. After a single off the bat of Jeff “Make My Day” Maynard loaded the bases, Roger “Rally Time” Roy knocked in another Dahlonega run with a RBI single to the gap in right center. Bob “The Basher” Burrell followed with a RBI sacrifice fly to center to extend the Gold’s lead to 4-0.
The Miners were able to get out of the inning without any further damage with an inning-ending double play.
The Miners’ lineup also had a hot start to the game, as Lumpkin County scored five runs in the bottom of the inning to take a 5-4 advantage.
The five-run inning began with an infield single from Casey “Boomstick” Brooks. Brooks scored the Miners’ first run of the game when In”Vince”able Adams followed him by crushing a pitch to deep centerfield for a RBI triple. Jeff “MVP” Olsen kept the Miners rolling with a RBI single to right field that cut the Gold’s lead to 4-2. Don “Powerhouse” Paul belted a double to deep left field to give the Miners runners at second and third for Gaddis. Gaddis connected for a hard hit ball to left field that the Gold’s outfielder couldn’t handle, allowing two more Miner runs to score to even the game at 4-4. After an infield single by Bill “Bash Em” Boyer gave Lumpkin County runners at the corners, Wayne “Happy Feet” Richards completed the five-run inning with a RBI single up the middle, giving the Miners a 5-4 advantage.
The Miners added another run in the bottom of the second inning when Jeff “Cool As Ice” Cassella connected for a RBI sacrifice fly to left field, extending Lumpkin’s lead to 6-4.
The Gold tied the game at 6-6 in the top of the third when Dupree and Pellegrino each produced RBI singles.
However, a RBI double by Adams, a RBI single from Olsen and a three-run bomb off the bat of Paul in the bottom of the third inning put the Miners back on top at 11-6.
The Gold answered right back in the top of the fourth with RBI triples from Tom “The Bionic Man” Braswell and Kurt “Mighty Man” Michel and a RBI double by Rodger “Feel the Burn” Burnisky. The three-run inning by Dahlonega lessened the Miners’ lead to 11-9.
The Gold would score just two more runs in the game. The first came in the top of the fifth when Williams connected for a RBI single to left and the second run came in the top of the sixth off a RBI single by Braswell.
While the Gold struggled to produce more runs, the Miners went on to score once in the fourth off a RBI sacrifice fly from Boyer and five more times in the fifth.
The Miners held a 17-11 advantage headed into the final inning of play and set the Gold down in order to secure the 17-11 victory.
The Miners’ win set the stage for Lumpkin County to face off with the Tri-State Pickups in the second round and for the Gold to face off with the Rabun County Relics in the second round.
The Gold struggled to get the same production they received from their lineup versus the Miners when they stepped onto the diamond against Rabun.
The Relics held Dahlonega to nine runs while scoring 24 runs themselves. The result was a lopsided 24-9 victory for Rabun.
The Gold weren’t the only Seniors of Swing team to struggle in the second round of the championship tournament, as the Miners’ bats went cold against the Pickups.
Tri-State held the Miners to just five runs in the game and pulled an upset victory with a 16-5 win.
“If you’re not winning, you’re learning,” said Olsen after the upset.
The loss to the Pickups squashed the Miners’ hopes of winning the Clayton League Championship and dropped them to the third/fourth place game against the Franklin Old Bones.
The Miners’ bats didn’t stay cold versus the Old Bones and the lineup exploded for 20 runs in the game while the defense held Franklin to 13 runs. The result was a 20-13 victory for Lumpkin, securing the Miners third place.
The Gold weren’t as fortunate in their third round game for seventh/eighth place. Dahlonega gave the Lake Keowee Kings a run for their money, but in the end fell by a final score of 25-18.
The Hendersonville Sluggers took the top spot at the tournament, defeating Tri-State 24-19 in the championship game.
Despite neither Dahlonega or Lumpkin County winning the championship title, the LC Miners did finish the 2019 season with an overall record of 50-17-1, including non-league games, this season. The 50 wins marked the best season for the Seniors of Swing since joining the Clayton League.
Both the Miners and the Gold will look forward to the 2020 season, in hopes of improving on what they accomplished in 2019.