Bengals Gut Out Wins to Advance to Upper State

Although the Boiling Springs catcher can’t believe it, Blythewood’s Andrew Beckwith slides into home with the tying run in the seventh inning of last week’s District championship game.

Last Wednesday (May 1) the Blythewood Bengals baseball team (24-5) hosted the Bulldogs of Boiling Springs for the District IV championship of the class 4A state playoffs. Blythewood reached the District championship with a 6-5 win over Fort Mill and a 1-0 win over Boiling Springs in the previous week’s play. But in the double elimination style tournament the Bengals would face Boiling Springs for a chance to advance to the upper state bracket. Boiling Springs kept their season alive with a 16-6 win over Fort Mill. In game one of the district championship the Bengals fell 4-2. Blythewood starting pitcher Zack Hamilton took his first loss in two years after throwing just 32 pitches in one and one-third innings pitched. Boiling Springs opened up the scoring with a two-out solo home run from Cory Cremonese in the top of the first inning. The Bulldogs extended their lead in the second inning after a leadoff home run and an RBI single. After just one out in the second inning Hamilton gave way to freshman pitcher Jacob Davis. The final line for Hamilton was three runs on five hits, three strikeouts and no walks. Davis went the rest of the way and was able to subdue the Bulldogs offense giving up one run on six hits, 10 strikeouts and two walks in five and two-thirds innings. Although the Bengals didn’t get the win head coach Barry Mizzell was impressed with the way his freshman pitcher responded out of the pen.

“(Davis) came in and was tough and battled,” Mizzell said. “Jacob (Davis) is going to be a great pitcher.”

Blythewood broke through in the third inning when Chaz Mizzell pulled a pitch over the right field wall for a solo shot. Thomas Bessinger scored the final run of the ball game after he hit a one-out double to the right-field gap, advanced to third on a wild pitch and then stole home. Even with that rally Boiling Springs would go on for a 4-2 victory and force a second game with the winner being crowned the District IV champion. Despite taking only their fifth loss of the season Mizzell was proud that his team didn’t quit.

“We battled back, but just couldn’t quite get it together at the end,” Mizzell said.

In game two the Bengals allowed Boiling Springs to jump out in front 3-0 in the top of the second inning. The Bulldogs scored three runs off four hits and a walk in the inning. The damage could have been even worse had it not been for Hunter Lipscomb being thrown out at the plate after Bessinger cut off a throw from the right fielder Aaron Dahm to end the inning. Boiling Springs added another run in the top of the third inning after a leadoff double by Cremonese and an RBI single from catcher Chris Stewart. Trailing 4-0 in the bottom of the third inning Blythewood would finally get to Boiling Springs’ starter Jacob Hennessy and mount their rally by sending 10 batters to the plate. With the bases loaded, the number three hitter, Tyler Romanik, worked a walk followed by RBIs by Bessinger and Derek Croxton to knot up the game at 4-4. However the tie would be short lived because in the top of the fourth an error allowed the go-ahead run to score and the Bulldogs would go back on top 5-4. After 107 pitches, Bengal starter Andrew Beckwith’s night was done after giving up a leadoff single in the top of the seventh in a one-run ball game. Beckwith finished allowing five runs on nine hits, five strikeouts and three walks in six innings of work. Allen Louthian took the mound and struck out the side to give the Bengal hitters a chance to win it in the bottom of the seventh inning. Beckwith started the rally by slicing a pitch to the opposite field. But with the tying run at first the next two batters were retired and the game was left up to Croxton, who came through with an RBI double that he crushed deep to left field. With the game tied 5-5, the number six hitter, D.J. Schofield, reached base on an error and that moved Croxton (the winning run) to third base and just 90 feet away from home. With the game on the line the Bengals sophomore center fielder, Connor Grant, stepped up and hit a dribbler through the left side of the infield to score the winning run.

“Connor (Grant) is a kid that just puts the ball in play,” Mizzell noted. “He’s a tough out and was able to find a hole.”

With the win the Bengals improved to 23-5 overall and earned their fifth District championship. By completing the come from behind victory, Blythewood showed their flare for the dramatic but Mizzell was just happy to continue their post season run.

“I wish we’d found a little different way to do it,” Mizzell said with a smile. “But our motto in the playoffs has been just winning and advancing. It’s not about how you win, it’s about just winning. We were able to hang in there, keep the game close and ours kids believed.”

Louthian (5-1) came out of the bullpen to earn his third victory in the District championship round and in fact earned all three wins for Blythewood in the District IV bracket. Heading into the upper state championship bracket, Blythewood won two games in come from behind fashion and another in nine innings. With those type of victories Mizzell believes his team’s confidence is growing.

“Our kids have gained a lot of confidence,” Mizzell said. “They have that feeling that now no matter what they’re not out of it.”

Game 1 of Tuesday night’s upper state playoff game at Wade Hampton was rained out. The game was scheduled to be made up Wednesday night.

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