Bengals blast through Diamond Invitational

The Blythewood High School Bengals baseball squad, champions of the 2013 S.C. Diamond Invitational Tournament.

Blythewood High School, host of the third annual South Carolina Diamond Invitational, walked away with a tournament championship last weekend, blasting Greenville in the title game, 10-0, Sunday afternoon.

The SCDI is arguably one of the best high school baseball tournaments in the state and featured some of the top teams in the state including Wren (ranked first in 3A), Greenville (ranked fourth in 3A), Blythewood (ranked fifth in 4A), Mauldin (ranked sixth in 4A), South Aiken (ranked eighth in 4A), Wesleyan Christian Academy, Brookland Cayce and Hammond. With eight teams, families and fans coming to Blythewood for the three day tournament there was much to do and Blythewood high school athletic director Vince Lowry knows it wouldn’t have been possible without support.

“I give a lot of credit to the coaches and the players parents,” Lowry said. “They have a tremendous support staff that put in a lot of long hours and did an exceptional job.”

The Bengals started the tourney off by beating all three teams in their bracket to advance to the championship game. On Friday night the Bengals beat Wren 10-2. Blythewood got their 10 runs off 14 hits and were led by Derek Croxton at the plate. Croxton was 3-for-4 at the plate and knocked in five runs. Starting pitcher Andrew Beckwith earned the win after throwing four innings and allowing just one run on three hits while striking out seven.

Saturday night the Bengals earned two more wins starting with a 9-6 victory over Wesleyan Christian. Starting pitcher Zack Hamilton got the win after going four innings allowing five runs on seven hits and striking out four. Thomas Bessinger came in relief in the seventh inning and earned the save. Bessinger threw just 13 pitches to get the first three hitters out and seal the deal. The Bengals’ leadoff hitter, Aaron Dahm, was 1-for-4 at the plate with a run scored and three runs batted in. In the second inning Dahm crushed a ball over the left-center field fence for a three run homer. Later that day the Bengals defeated Hammond 13-9 in the nightcap. Trailing 6-3, Blythewood had to rally in the fifth inning and put up four runs in the inning to go back on top and then blew it open in the sixth inning by scoring six more runs.

With the three wins Blythewood squared off against the Red Raiders of Greenville on Sunday in the championship game. Greenville had also won their three games in group play but were no match for the Bengals on the final day as Blythewood shutout the Red Raiders 10-0 in six innings. The Bengals earned six runs in the first inning with the first six batters reaching base. Greenville starting pitcher Evan Smith was charged with all six runs and the loss after not even recording a single out. Dahm was a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate while knocking in two runs and scoring two as well. Freshman starting pitcher Jacob Davis was phenomenal, blanking Greenville in all six innings and allowing just three hits on 60 pitches. After an exciting three days of baseball Lowry was proud to see the Bengals take home the championship trophy.

“Talking to the players beforehand, it was something they wanted to do very badly,” Lowry said. “They played extremely well from day one and for the end result to be tournament champions was just the icing on the cake.”

In the three year history of the SCDI it was the first tournament championship for the Bengals in school history. Blythewood players Croxton, Tyler Romanik and Connor Grant earned all-tournament team honors with Croxton taking home the MVP trophy. It was the second year in a row that Croxton made the all-tournament team and he earned MVP honors by batting .600 during the tournament with nine runs batted in and three runs scored.