Lexington Blanks Bengals in Title Game

Blythewood coaches console losing pitcher Andrew Beckwith after Friday’s loss.

Tyler Romanik steps on third for the force out.

In the third and final game of the class 4A state championship series, and with the title on the line, the Blythewood Bengals baseball squad came up on the short end of a 4-0 shutout at the hands of Lexington High School Friday evening at the University of South Carolina baseball stadium in Columbia.

Last week, after booting the ball around and dropping game one in Lexington, Blythewood head coach Barry Mizzell knew his team had to play a more fundamentally sound game to stay alive.

“The teams that win this time of year are the ones that make the fewest mistakes,” Mizzell said last week. “We made our errors at key times and that’s what it boiled down to.”

Although the Bengals looked much more sound in game two, coming from behind to win 7-2 at home last Wednesday, in Friday’s deciding game the gremlins were afoot in the infield. The Bengals committed six errors in the championship game, errors that contributed to every single Wildcat run of the evening.

Andrew Beckwith (7-3) was forced to work out of jams in each of his five innings on the mound, the most hazardous in the first and third innings. In the bottom of the first, Lexington’s Ryan Brown reached first on an infield error to lead off the inning. Brown moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, then to third when Nick Ciuffo reached on the second error to the inning. Brown came home when the next batter, Zach Paquette, reached first on the third error of the perilous first frame. Beckwith escaped without further damage, stranding a pair of Wildcats, but the tone appeared to be set for a shaky Bengal outing.

Beckwith stranded two more runners in the second, but in the third the gremlins were at work again, as eight Wildcats came to the plate, scoring three runs on one hit, two walks and three more Bengal errors. After retiring Ciuffo on a fly to right to lead off the inning, Beckwith then issued a walk to Paquette. When the next batter, Cole McMillan, grounded out to first for the second out, it looked as if Beckwith would get out of the inning unscathed. But the next batter, Brandon Camp, lined a double into the right field corner, advancing to third on an error. Paquette came around to score and Camp would soon follow, coming around when David Barboza reached first on an infield error. Beckwith gave up his second walk of the night to Jordan Buster and Cody Smith reached on an infield error, scoring Barboza.

Beckwith gave up four hits on two walks and a pair of strikeouts through five innings. Only one of his four runs was earned. The Bengal righty threw 81 pitches on the night, 34 for balls and 47 strikes. Allen Louthian tossed nine pitches in the sixth and final inning for the Bengals, retiring the side with one hit, a strikeout and a double play.

Lexington’s Josh Reagan, meanwhile, ran his season record to a perfect 11-0, going all seven for the ‘Cats. Reagan gave up just three hits and walked a pair while striking out six and hitting one batter in the sixth. Of Reagan’s 88 pitches, 57 went for strikes, while his defense played error-free ball behind him.

The Bengals’ greatest scoring threat came with two outs in the top of the first, when Tyler Romanik came just a foot shy of clearing the center field wall (380 feet) with a towering drive that popped in and out of Paquette’s glove as he crashed into the fence. Romanik had to settle for a double, and although the next batter, Aaron Dahm, reached first on an infield single, both were stranded when Dereck Croxton flied out to right to end the inning.

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