West Columbia steps into the sun

By Thomas Grant Jr.

Much of last week for West Columbia Post 79 could be summed up by singer B.J. Thomas’ opening words to his Oscar-winning 1969 hit.

“Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head.”

West Columbia saw all four of its planned and rescheduled games postponed due to incessant rain. Even when it began a three-day tournament at Conway High School, its first contest was called off due to bad weather.

Since returning to action this past Saturday West Columbia has enjoyed sunny days. It entered Tuesday’s matchup with Lexington Post 7 riding a 4-game winning streak in which it has outscored opponents 41-9.

“We played in a tournament this past weekend in Conway at Myrtle Beach,” Post 79 head coach Dargan Lybrand said. “Did really well. Started hitting and it just started clicking. Started playing defense, started pitching and kids just started playing and we’ve done a good job.”

Once Post 79 began play in the tournament, it did not take long for the offense to get into rhythm. It scored 10 unanswered runs in the first three innings and pounded out 12 hits in a 13-2 win in five innings over the Greenville Thunder.

Peyton Starkey of Gray Collegiate drove in three runs, Mason Turner of Brookland-Cayce scored four runs, Connor Wood went 3-4 and he, Parker Mergo and Corbin Wright of Airport all drove in two RBI.

The second game saw West Columbia win in walk off fashion. Tied with Beverly-Lowell in the bottom of the seventh and Addison Keisler on first base, Turner sent a 1-2 pitch over the centerfield wall for the 4-2 victory.

West Columbia catcher Preston Coggins of White Knoll with a catch in foul territory.

The next day, West Columbia completed its weekend sweep in Conway with a 13-1 rout in five innings of Potomac Valley Post 64.

Turner opened the game with a leadoff home run, the first of five in the game by West Columbia. After Starkey singled, Wright hit the first of his two home runs to make it 3-0 in the first inning.

It was déjà vu in the top of the top inning. Starkey was once again on base when he was brought home by a Wright home run to left field to extend the lead to 5-0.

West Columbia was up 7-0 when Brent Stukes hit a 3-run home run and Josh Raines blasted a solo shot in the fourth inning. In the fifth inning, Starkey closed out the home run barrage with a 2-run shot to make it 13-0.

Wright picked up the win on the mound, allowing one run, three hits and striking out three.

Post 79 resumed League III play Monday at Brookland-Cayce High School. Facing Chapin/Newberry Post 193/24, West Columbia continued to swing hot bats as it pounded out 12 hits and two home runs in the 11-4 victory.

Wright went 2-3, including a grand slam in the second inning. Preston Coggins of White Knoll went 2-3 with three RBI and a 2-run homer and Robert McMillian was 2-4 with two BI.

Josh Raines went the distance, allowing four runs and hits and striking out three on 106 pitches. With West Columbia playing three straight nights, it was important for Lybrand to have available arms entering the home stretch of the season.

“We’re just going to have to do the same thing – keep hitting,” he said.

Featured photo: West Columbia first baseman Corbin Wright of Airport is greeted at home plate following his grand slam.