Sleight of Hand Lifts Bengals Over Blazers

Last Friday the Blythewood Bengals baseball team (9-3, 4-0) outlasted the Ridge View Blazers 3-1 to stay undefeated in region play. The Bengals scored their three runs off five hits, but left eight runners on base. After the game, Blythewood head coach Barry Mizzell talked about his team’s offensive struggles.

“We had some of what we call bad at bats,” Mizzell said. “But you have to give Ridge View credit because their pitchers pitched well.”

Chris Moody started the game on the mound for the Blazers, but would be replaced in the fifth inning after 73 pitches. The Bengals did their damage during the second inning when they scored all three of their runs. Moody was forced to throw 36 pitches during the inning with only 20 of them going for strikes. Chaz Mizzell led off the inning with a strikeout, but the next five Bengal hitters would reach base. It was the bottom third of the lineup that got to Moody. It started with Ricky Kernan earning a one-out walk and then advancing to third on a double to right field by Derek Croxton. Both came home on a single from Connor Grant when he smashed a two-ball two-strike pitch back up the middle.

“That was a big hit for us,” Mizzell said. “(Grant) fought and fought and fought to give us some runs early and give us a little bit of a cushion.”

Grant would eventually come home off a sacrifice fly from the bat of Tyler Romanik. Blythewood pitching was again the highlight of the night, though. The Bengals’ pitching staff is sporting a team ERA of 0.38 and going into the game against Ridge View had thrown 19 scoreless innings. Mizzell has been proud of his team’s defense this season and knows it’s their pitching that gives them a chance to win on any night.

“We’ve had some ups and down, offensively,” Mizzell noted. “But one thing that has been steady is our pitching and our defense.”

Friday night’s spectacular pitching performance came off the right arm of senior Zack Hamilton as he allowed just one run on one hit, striking out 10. Hamilton retired 18 of the first 19 batters he faced and took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning, but lost Logan Sherry to a lead-off walk after being ahead in the count 0-2. Then, Mitchell Price broke up the no hitter after a nine-pitch at-bat by crushing a fastball into the left-center field gap. Price’s hit not only broke up the no hitter but also broke a 25 scoreless innings streak by Blythewood pitchers. Hamilton then fired back by striking out the next two hitters, but with his pitch count up over 100, he was pulled from the game after giving up a two-out walk to the Ridge View catcher, Bryce Patrick.

With the tying run at first base, Mizzell sent senior right hander Allen Louthian to the mound. Although Louthian would never throw a pitch, he still got the save by faking a pickoff throw to first and then tagging out pinch runner Allen Gardner. The Blythewood defense followed through with the trick play by chasing the feigned wild throw, confusing of Gardner who was tagged out on the base path trying to reach second. After the game Mizzell talked about the biggest play of the night.

“The game of baseball is funny,” Mizzell said. “You have to have some things like that happen on some nights.”

Mizzell called the trick play when the Blazers pinch runner came into the game hoping to take advantage of his aggressiveness, and it worked. With the win, Hamilton improved his record to 4-0 with 23 and two-thirds innings pitched, allowing just 11 hits, five walks and 30 strikeouts. He has a team low 0.30 ERA and Mizzell is proud of the hurler’s progress.

“Zack has always had a great arm and he’s pitched well for us,” Mizzell said. “His confidence is really up right now and that’s helping him tremendously.”

Tuesday night, the Bengals scalded Richland Northeast, 11-0, behind a no-hit performance from Andrew Beckwith.

Blythewood is back at home on Thursday Apr. 4 when they host Hammond. First pitch is at 7:30 p.m.

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