Bengals edge Spring Valley in 11-inning nail-biter

The Blythewood High School Bengals pile on Aaron Dahm after his 11th-inning walk-off single Tuesday night.

The Blythewood Bengals (16-3, 6-0) were back on the diamond Tuesday night for their fifth game in five when they hosted the Vikings of Spring Valley (8-4, 4-2). In a pitcher’s duel that lasted 11 innings, the Bengals outlasted Spring Valley 1-0. After the game Bengals head coach Barry Mizzell said he was proud of his team’s effort in the marathon contest.

“That was a great high school game,” Mizzell said. “Our kids played great and just kept battling and were able to win it in the end.”

Blythewood senior Andrew Beckwith got the start and despite allowing three base hits in the first inning pitched nine innings of scoreless baseball, throwing 105 pitches and striking out seven Spring Valley hitters. Relief pitcher Allen Louthian came in for the Bengals in the 10th inning and was lights out. Louthian retired all six batters he faced and earned the victory with two strikeouts in the final frame. Mizzell was excited about Louthian’s success out of the bullpen.

“Allen (Louthian) has really pitched well for us and he’s earned our trust,” Mizzell said. “He has proven he can handle the pressure and did a great job in those two innings.”

In 11 innings, the two sides combined for just one error and neither was able to come up with any hit greater than a single. Spring Valley never sent more than five batters to the plate and Blythewood sent six just once. Bengals shortstop Thomas Bessinger had two of the most impressive plays in the field. With two runners on and one out in the sixth inning, Bessinger scooped a ball behind second base and then flipped it with his glove to the second baseman Rickey Kernan to turn the double-play and get the Bengals out of the inning unscathed. Then in the top half of the seventh inning Bessinger cut a ball off with a diving stop and threw out the runner to prevent a leadoff single. Mizzell knows that those were key plays in a tight game.

“Thomas (Bessinger) is a very good defensive shortstop,” Mizzell noted. “He plays hard and is very aggressive to the ball.”

In the bottom of the 11th inning the Bengals would finally get the opening they needed to break the game open. Derek Croxton was able to lead off the inning by reaching base on an error by the Spring Valley second baseman. In fact, the first three Blythewood batters would reach base and with no outs and the bases loaded Aaron Dahm came up with the biggest single of the night as he drove a two-ball one-strike pitch back up the middle for the game winning run. In a clutch situation with the game on the line Mizzell had faith in his right fielder.

“Aaron (Dahm) had some good at bats all night long,” Mizell said. “He’s a good hitter and he is who we want in that situation.”

With that win the Bengals remain undefeated in Region IV-4A play and will travel to Lugoff-Elgin tonight to take on the Demons (3-8, 2-4). First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m.