Bengals Clinch Region Pennant

Ricky Kernan breaks for home.

The Blythewood Bengals baseball team (19-3, 9-0) clinched the region pennant Tuesday night and remained undefeated in Region IV-4A play with an 8-1 victory over the Cavaliers of Richland Northeast (10-8, 6-3). It was the 14th straight win for the Bengals who swept the season series with Richland Northeast. Back on March 26 Blythewood shutout the Cavaliers 11-0 and Bengals’ starting pitcher Andrew Beckwith had a perfect game going until the last out of the ball game. Beckwith was on the mound again Tuesday night, allowing just one run on three hits, two walks and striking out four batters in six innings of work. Beckwith threw 71 pitches with 49 of those going for strikes. After the game Blythewood head coach Barry Mizzell talked about how much stronger his right handed hurler got toward the end of the game.

“Andrew got better as the game went on,” Mizzell said. “Even when he doesn’t have his best stuff he battles.”

The Cavaliers got their lone run in the third inning after a one out double and an error allowed the runner to score. But that’s when Beckwith started to bear down, with a three-up three-down inning in the fourth and in the fifth he recorded back to back strikeouts with runners at second and third with just one out. Despite the slow start Mizzell was proud of his team’s effort.

“Effort-wise it was a good game for us,” Mizzell said. “We were a little sluggish early, but eventually found our groove and got going.”

Offensively, the Bengals earned their eight runs off nine hits. Heading into the bottom of the fifth inning with the Bengals holding on to a slim lead of 3-1, second baseman Ricky Kernan blew the game open with a three-run double. Mizzell shifted his lineup for the first time since the start of region and was impressed with Kernan’s response.

“Ricky is a kid that has worked extremely hard,” Mizzell said. “And tonight he came through with some big hits for us.”

Out of the number nine spot, Kernan was 3-for-3 with a walk, six runs batted in and three runs scored. Blythewood will close out the regular season with a game at Ridge View tonight (April 19). Blythewood squeaked by Ridge View on March 22 with a 3-1 victory. First pitch at Blazer’s field is at 6:30 p.m. Earlier this week, 10 Bengal seniors celebrated their senior night. Kernan, Beckwith, Bradley Lanier, Thomas Bessinger, D.J. Schoefield, Derek Croxton, Derek Massey, Allen Louthian and Zack Hamilton all played in their final home game of the regular season. Mizzell believes the 2013 class will leave an impact on the Bengals baseball program.

“We’ve got a great senior class,” Mizzell said. “These are kids that have been in our program and dedicated a lot of themselves having won three region championships now.”

In fact, Blythewood hasn’t lost a region game in three years and Mizzell knows that would not have been possible without a complete effort of his senior class in 2013.

“These seniors have really helped build our program,” Mizzell said. “Not only as baseball players but as good students and young men with character. This is a special group.”