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Lake City High School

Lake City nabs first district title since 2010

By C.R. Cumbee

Staff Writer

Lake City—It has been a season to remember for the Lake City baseball team. The Panthers captured the Mingo Bay spring break tournament championship and went on to finish in a three-way tie along with Waccamaw and Aynor for the region title.

Entering the playoffs as a No. 2 seed, Lake City went 3-1 and defeated Swansea to claim the district crown. It was the first time since 2010 that the Panthers moved on to the Lower State Final Four.

“They’re a resilient bunch,” head coach Matt Apicella said. “These pitch counts changed everything for everyone and we had an unfortunate suspension for two games that hurt us. We got through that, and when Swansea jumped out in game one, they understood what we were doing and responded in game two.”

Lake City shut out Aynor in the first game of the Lower State tournament but was knocked into the consolation bracket after falling to Bishop England. They’ll need three consecutive victories to advance to the Class AAA state finals.

No matter what happens, it has been a memorable last ride for the senior class. Shortstop/pitcher Bill Hanna and centerfielder Jalen Barr each were named to the North-South All-Star game while pitcher/utilityman Nate Bright, second baseman/pitcher Keenan Graham, catcher Molik Brown, first baseman Demarion Johnson, designated hitter Nyreek Bivins and outfielder Terquan Rush have given valuable contributions.

“(Winning the district) has been a goal. It was a goal last year but we had some injuries to some key pieces for us. This year it was good to have everybody healthy and in place, and these kids did what they set out to do when we started coaching them in sixth grade,” Apicella said.

While there will be plenty to replace for the Panthers in 2017, they still have a few experienced players returning. Third baseman Chris Burnett and outfielders Jerrick Nesbitt and Melvon Cooper will need to step up and lead the newcomers.

 “Losing eight seniors is going to be huge so we’ll definitely take a step back, but I like the way these young kids work. We have expectations in the program and those won’t change,” Apicella said.

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