This past week was a great week of play for the Orangeburg Post 4 American Legion Baseball team.
Orangeburg collected 43 runs and allowed just four in a 3-game sweep of Goose Creek Post 166.
With a team that has players coming from seven different high schools and two different college programs, the various lineup options help head coach/manager Frank Leysath and his staff of assistant head coach Marty Kinard Jr., associate head coach/pitching coach Matt Arant and equipment manager/van driver Catlin Craven get the team in position to win.
There are four players apiece from region champion Bamberg-Ehrhardt, Edisto and Calhoun County. Two other players took state championship pedigree from programs at Calhoun Academy and Holly Hill Academy and played their first collegiate seasons this past spring.
Surprisingly, though, this Monday at Colleton County High School against Walterboro is the first opportunity there has been for all 18 Post 4 players to be at the same field at the same time.
Leysath sees great potential for a playoff run, as long as the team keeps winning to secure a postseason berth out of League 1.
“So far it’s been a great group of kids to be around,” Leysath said on Friday. “The really good thing is the fact that 12 of the 18 will be eligible to play again next year.”
Of course, if not for the Legionnaires who are a part of the Orangeburg American Legion Post 4, the funds wouldn’t be raised annually for these young baseball players to be able to play these games.
With American Legion playoffs starting in less than three weeks – and with four home games left in the regular season (June 20, 26, 28 and 29) – here is a look at the Post 4 roster, complete with a brief scouting report on each player.
• Hunter Etheridge (Bamberg-Ehrhardt) – Solid contact hitter. Steady defensive infielder. One of the faster guys on the team. Plays second base and can play shortstop. Just now more than a year removed from Tommy John surgery. May DH some later in the season. In a pinch, can play right field or first base.
• Austin Sandifer (Edisto) – Fourth of the five Sandifers that have played for Leysath on the Post 4 team. Versatile defender who can hit. Plays left field, shortstop and second base. On Thursday night, pitched all 7 innings of a win at Goose Creek.
• Seth Chestnut (Barnwell) – No. 1 starting pitcher. Threw a no-hitter to start this past week’s series on the road against Goose Creek. Can play all infield positions. Signed with Furman University to continue baseball career. Played for Post 4 in 2016 and is eligible to play again next year. Solid on-base percentage. Finds ways to get on base even when not hitting well. Deceptive speed running bases.
• Blake Huddleston (Calhoun Academy/Francis Marion University) – Another returning player from 2016 team. His older brother also played for Post 4. More mature player and team leader after a season of college ball for the Patriots and former CA standout Art Inabinet. Plays first base when not pitching. Can play outfield or third base. No. 2 pitcher for Post 4. Good base runner.
• Hagen Mott (Holly Hill Academy/USC Salkehatchie) – Another returning player from last season. Starting pitcher who can be utilized as a closer. Plays corner positions on infield and is a team leader. A unique player who has a defensive presence on the infield but can also serve as a productive designated hitter.
• Kyle Gray (Calhoun Academy) – Third year playing for Post 4. Returns after a strong season both pitching and hitting for Orangeburg in 2016. A southpaw pitcher who is productive at the plate, even in pinch-hit situations. Can be a Top 4 starter, solid reliever or hold down defensive play at first base.
• Shane Hanks (Bamberg-Ehrhardt) – Returning starting catcher for Post 4. Productive batter who finds ways to get on base and has deceptive speed to steal bases. Hitting the ball better than in 2016. Good quarterback behind the plate, who sees it all. USC Salkehatchie baseball signee.
• Blaze Bunch (Bamberg-Ehrhardt) – Big outfielder who makes plays with his glove and his arm in right field. Has been hitting strong all summer, leads the team in runs batted in with 9. Gets power in his hits, resulting in few cheap base hits and gap doubles at times. Can be team closer on the mound, if needed.
• Reece Davis (Edisto) – Played for Post 4 in 2015, but missed the 2016 summer schedule with a knee injury from the high school season. Rehabilitated his knee for a solid senior season, before earning a scholarship to play baseball at Brewton-Parker College. Plays third base and had multi-hit game in Beaufort series. A total effort player who can play other infield and outfield positions. Available for middle relief, if needed.
• Andrew Isgett (Calhoun County) – A high-risk, high-reward middle infielder who has great fielding range. Lot of potential defensively. Runs bases well. Played for Post 4 in 2015. Played mostly travel ball tournaments in 2016. Possibly the best bunter on the team. Strong relief pitcher with cutting curveball and sneaky fastball.
• Vance Holden (Barnwell) – Third-year Post 4 centerfielder who covers a lot of ground defensively and also was the batting average leader for Barnwell. Has the top on-base percentage on Post 4, even batting in the 9-hole slot. Is second on the team in runs batted in with 7.
• Michael Sandifer (Edisto) – Came on strong pitching for Edisto this past season. Entered a game against Goose Creek Post 166 this past week and pitched long relief to pick up the win. An important pitcher-only player for Post 4 who is ready to take the mound each day.
• Noah Bearden (Calhoun County) – Versatile outfielder who was a starting pitcher for the Saints, but hasn’t taken the mound for Post 4 yet. Steady left fielder for Post 4 who also serves as back-up catcher. Crafty hitter who has dropped a textbook sacrifice bunt and then, in the same game, driven a double to the outfield wall.
• Daniel Williams (Calhoun County) – Another versatile Post 4 player who can DH, catch and pitch. Inserted mostly as designated hitter or relief pitcher this season. Played for Post 4 in 2016.
• Alex Tapia (Calhoun County) – Big, hard-hitting left-handed batter who is a utility infielder. Has been playing DH or first base for Post 4.
• Noah Sweatman (Bamberg-Ehrhardt) – Another key pitcher-only player who is ready to take the mound every game. A rising senior at B-E who adds solid depth to the Post 4 bullpen. Came on to pitch against Beaufort and pitched well. His changeup and curveball keep batters off-balance.
• Will Rickenbaker (Edisto) – First-year Post 4 player who is improving as a hitter. Good defensive outfielder who was a standout junior varsity player for Edisto this spring.
• Hunter Bauer (Branchville) – First-year Post 4 player who can play outfield and infield positions. Has a strong arm.
NOTE: University of Louisville star Brendan McKay, a former American Legion Baseball player for the Blackhawk team in Beaver Falls, Pa., earned two big accolades this week.
A pitcher and first baseman, McKay was the first collegiate player drafted in the 2017 Major League Baseball Draft, selected fourth by the Tampa Bay Rays.
McKay was also named a finalist for the 40th Golden Spikes Award, presented by USA Baseball annually. The award selects the top amateur baseball player in the United States based on their athletic ability, sportsmanship, character and overall contribution to the sport.
Former Legion players Bryce Harper (2010), Kris Bryant (2013) and AJ Reed (2014) are recent former winners of the Golden Spikes Award.