FLORENCE, S.C. – The goal was there from day one, coach Josh Brown said.
“Starting in May, we wanted to be in the (Junior Legion baseball) state tournament,” he said. “We’ve worked hard all summer to get here, and now we’re going to see what happens.”
Brown’s West Florence Gold squad punched its ticket to Inman on Wednesday with an 11-4 victory over rival South Florence Blue in the decisive contest of the best of three series.
“This team has really gelled together from the get-go,” Brown said of his now 19-4-1 squad. “They play hard every night and have a lot of energy. They want to succeed together.
“It’s been a fun summer and we want to keep it going as long as we can.”
That journey continues on Saturday at 4 p.m. when WFG will face Lancaster on day one of the eight-team, double-elimination tournament at Jim Everhart Field.
West will play again on Sunday before the tournament begins to dwindle down. Tuesday night will feature the possible championship contest at 7 p.m. with a winner-take-all game on Wednesday at 1 p.m. if needed.
Before that, however, West will have to face the best in the state starting with Lancaster. Sumter, Inman, Aynor, Chesterfield, Rock Hill and York make up the rest of the field.
“I certainly think we’re battled-tested,” Brown said. “It’s always hard to play your rival (South) because you know each other so well, and it came down to a decisive third game.
“That was good for us to get ready for the tournament because we’re certainly going to play some good teams from here on out.”
West hasn’t played Lancaster this year and knows little about them, but Brown said the team is confident sending out starter George Floyd for the opener. Floyd is 4-0 with a 1.20 ERA with 72 strikeouts in 41 innings pitched this summer.
“Saturday’s big so we’re going to throw George and just take it one game at a time right now,” Brown said. “Playing (teams) you haven’t really played before – you just got to go out and compete and see what happens.”
The pitching staff as a whole has a 2.90 ERA led by Floyd, John Coble and Clark Driggers. Floyd also leads the team in batting average (.426) while Coleman Kelly is tops with 21 RBI.
Josh Williams, Shannon Jackson, Cross Herbert and Nic Edick are also among the offensive leaders for a team that has scored 197 runs thus far and driven in 155.
Chesterfield will actually kick the tournament off at 10 a.m. against York. Aynor and Rock Hill follow at 1 p.m. and Sumter, the defending state champs, takes on host Inman at 7:30 p.m.
On Tuesday, the Chesterfield squad earned its berth in the tournament with an 8-0 shutout of Turbeville behind Nick Boswell’s no-hitter.