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Robert E. Lee High School
Bishopville

Cavaliers two wins away from SCISA AA title series

By C.R. Cumbee

Staff Writer

Bishopville—Year in and year out, the Robert E. Lee Academy baseball team seems to compete for championships. That is no different this spring as the Cavaliers have accrued a 22-7 record as they earned another region title and won their first-round playoff series.

“We had a couple rough spots and we lost a couple in a row two different times, but other than that we’ve played pretty good. We’ve won nine in a row now so we’re playing our best ball at the right time,” head coach David Rankin said. “It’s about pitching and defense. We’re playing good defense and we’ve had pretty good pitching all year.”

Now the Cavaliers find themselves two victories away from playing for the SCISA AA state championship. But standing in their way is a best-of-three series against Hilton Head Christian.

“We haven’t played them and I don’t know much about them. I’ve heard they have some pretty good pitching and like to run a lot. They’re aggressive on the bases and they can swing the bats, one through nine. Once you get to the final four, that’s the way it’s supposed to be,” Rankin said.

Pitching has been the big key for the Cavaliers. Austin Windham, Nick Stokes, Gavin Melton and Jay McCutchen have been relied on heavily and answered the bell when needed.

“We’ve pitched a bunch of people. We’ve got three that we feel are pretty good so we’ve got about as much pitching as everybody else, except for Pee Dee probably,” Rankin said. “Austin, Nick, Gavin and Jay have done a good job. They’ve all started and relieved.”

The Cavaliers haven’t had many issues at the plate either. They have used the big blast as well as the bunt, doing whatever it takes to get runs across.

“We score enough. We’ve hit the ball well and put pressure on other teams. We’ll play a little small ball and continue to do that. We’ve hit 14 home runs as a team, and with these bats that’s pretty good,” Rankin said.

Leading that charge is Harry Cook, who is hitting over .400 this year with a team-high seven home runs.

“He’s showed some of that power last year with three or four home runs. He’s done it in practice and it’s translated over to the games,” Rankin said.

Centerfielder Bryce Barrett has batted .365 in the leadoff spot and has an offer from Francis Marion. Melton has also been a table-setter near the top of the lineup.

No matter what situations they face down the last stretch of the postseason, the Cavaliers shouldn’t be phased. They are a confident group that knows they can play with anyone.

“We played in the Mingo Bay tournament and were down twice by a run in the late innings and came back and won. One time we had two outs and nobody on and came back and won the game. When you do things like that against good teams, it gives you confidence,” Rankin said.

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