SUMMER CHAMPS! - West Columbia wins the S.C. American Baseball Summer League title
The "dream season" for West Columbia Post 76 concluded with a happy ending Sunday at Segra Park.
West Columbia defeated the Greer Warhawks 7-1 to claim the S.C. American Baseball Summer League title.
The championship completes a "worst to 1st" story for Post 79. A year after finishing with a losing record and missing the post-season, West Columbia rebounded under 1st year head coach Dargan Lybrand to finish with an overall record of 18-2-1.
"Awesome," said 1st year head coach Dargan Lybrand said. "I couldn't be more excited for these kids. These kids worked hard. They deserved all the fortune they've had all year."
The journey to the title was filled with adversity. The week started with 2 players contracting covid-19 and 3 leaving to report to their respective colleges.
On Sunday, Lybrand said his original starting pitcher Myles Hedgecock was unavailble due to a high fever. Stepping up for just the 2nd time this season was Pelion graduate Dylan Williamson.
The Spartanburg Methodist freshman managed to limit Greer to just 5 hits and 1 run and struck out 3 in 5 2/3 innings.
"I was coming back from an arm injury," Williamson said. "I was going out there trying to throw strikes, give my team ground balls and they stood there behind me and helped us win."
An RBI fielder's choice by Joshua Wise helped West Columbia jumped out to a 1-0 lead on Greer, whom 45 minutes earlier eliminated Fort Mill 8-2.
An RBI triple by Kameron Dunlap and RBI bunt single by Simms Owens extended the lead to 3-0 in the bottom of the 2nd.
Dunlap and Owens came through again to help put 4 runs on the board in the bottom of the 3rd. Dunlap drove in a run after he was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. He later scored on a double steal with Owens, who reached on a 2-run single.
After escaping 2 bases loaded threats in the 2nd and 5th inning, Williamson was 1 strike away from preserving his shutout in the 6th. This time, Tyler Perry drew a bases loaded walk which ended Williamson's day.
Owens got Brody Fahr to fly out to end the inning. He then retired Greer in order to end the game, prompting a pile-on celebration at the pitcher's mound for West Columbia.
Watching Post 79's reaction brought a sense of deja vu for Greer head coach Chad Hart. It had just 2 victories in 2018 before rebounding last year to win the American Legion crown on the same Segra Park ballfield.
"That's what I told them after the game," Hart said. "I said 'I was in your shoes last year'. I was a 1st year guy last year, we took it all the way. So obviously, with these guys, I expect to see them in the near future."
Greer ended the tournament undefeated and finished with a 16-2 record, both losses coming at the hands of West Columbia.
"It means a lot," Lybrand said. "They'll take this on with them for the rest of their lives, just like I will. I won't forget anything about this journey. Being that we were going through hard times, we worked through the adversity and we stepped up. That's what life's about, just stepping up."