Bengals Blast Vikes

Blythewood’s Thomas Bessinger slaps a single against Sumter.

The Blythewood Bengals baseball team (7-3, 3-0) won two of their three games this week, bouncing back from a 10-inning loss on March 14 at Sumter (4-3, 1-1). The Gamecocks were able to edge out the Bengals 3-2 in extra frames. Blythewood used three different pitchers in the game and head coach Barry Mizzell knows that one hit could have made all the difference.

“We just couldn’t get that hit in extra innings when we needed it,” Mizzell said.

The next night Blythewood was able to shake that loss off and earn a 4-0 victory over the Demons of Lugoff-Elgin (1-5, 0-2). Senior Zack Hamilton started that game and threw a complete game shutout with no walks and striking out 10. Hamilton has not allowed a run all season.

The Bengals continued region play Tuesday with an 11-0 win over the Vikings of Spring Valley (8-3, 2-1). Blythewood combined good hitting and sturdy defense with shutdown pitching for the win and Mizzell believes that is something his team has done all season.

“We did tonight what we’ve done most of the season,” Mizzell said. “We got good pitching, spotless defense and our bats go going for some good offense.”

The Bengals shelled the Spring Valley pitchers by knocking in their 11 runs off 12 hits. Andrew Beckwith started the night for Blythewood on the mound and threw a complete game shutout allowing just four hits and striking out six. Beckwith faced only three batters in every inning except for the sixth when he faced four. He threw a total of 78 pitches with 53 strikes. Beckwith has pitched 26 innings allowing no walks and although he didn’t give up any runs Mizzell believes Beckwith can still pitch better.

“He didn’t have his best stuff tonight and wasn’t as sharp as he usually is,” Mizzell said. “But he used his fastball and change-up more and that’s what good pitchers do. They compete and that’s what Andrew did tonight.”

Beckwith used a quick pace and pitches on the corners to keep the Spring Valley hitters off balance. The four hits by Spring Valley were spread out in the first, fourth, sixth and seventh innings. Three out of the four times the Vikings had a runner on base Beckwith induced the double-play with a ground ball. After the game Mizzell talked about Beckwith’s and his defense’s success.

“Not only does he (Beckwith) pound the strike zone but he works quickly and keeps his defense’s head in the game,” Mizzell said.

Blythewood started the scoring off in the first inning when shortstop Thomas Bessinger knocked a two-out RBI single that scored Tyler Romanik. Mizzell believes that hit set the tone for the ball game.

“Thomas came through with a big two-out hit for us and I think it relaxed us a little bit,” Mizzell said.

The big inning for the Bengals came in the third when the first five Blythewood batters reached base, beginning with Aaron Dahm reaching base on a walk and then back-to-back singles from Beckwith and Romanik. Andrew Collins was then forced from the game in the fourth after three and a third innings pitched allowing seven runs on six hits and walking three. He was replaced by relief pitcher Erik Leughard, although he didn’t fare much better. Leughard allowed four runs on six hits in three and two third innings worked. The big inning against Leughard came in the seventh when Dahm hit a two-out three-run homer over the center field wall. Spring Valley committed as many errors as they had hits, four. Despite the Viking errors, Mizzell knows his team still had to close the deal by coming through with timely hits.

“They made some mistakes,” Mizzell noted. “But I thought we had some good at bats and we were aggressive on the base pass.”

Even though there is still a month left in the regular season Mizzell feels good about where his team’s progress so far and knows it is all in preparation for the post-season.

“I like where we’re at right now,” Mizzell said. “We’ve played some good competition to prepare us for the playoffs.”

The Bengals had an away game at Brookland-Cayce on Wednesday night and at Ridge View Thursday night. Their next home game is tonight when they host Ridge View. First pitch is at 6:30 p.m.

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