Bengals Go Unblemished in Rain-Shortened Diamond Invitational

The weather played some cruel tricks Friday as Blythewood center fielder Connor Grant (right) races into left and makes a leaping catch over left fielder Ryan Malone. (Photo/Kristy Kimball Massey)

BLYTHEWOOD – Although the festivities met with a soggy, anticlimactic ending, with the games to decide the final standings rained out, the S.C. Diamond Invitational got in nearly three full days of baseball last week as teams from across the state descended on Blythewood High School for the fourth consecutive year.

While the weather decided that nothing would be finally decided, the hometown host team Blythewood Bengals ended play Friday evening with a 3-0 tournament record, best out of a pack that featured Wren, River Bluff, Spring Valley, West Ashley, Belton-Honea Path, Mauldin and Greenville high schools. The Bengals’ mark put them in position to square off against Mauldin in the tournament title game Saturday, but that was not to be as the rains began falling Friday evening and did not let up.

The Bengals saw their first tournament action in the nightcap on Wednesday, outlasting Greenville 14-9 in a game that saw the Red Raiders use five pitchers. Blythewood’s Drew Ellis got the win, with Connor Grant coming on in relief. Up 5-3 going into the bottom of the fifth, the Bengals exploded for 8 runs on 3 hits and 2 Greenville errors. That insurance would come in handy as the Raiders battled back to tack on 5 in the sixth to make things interesting.

Thursday evening, the Bengals staked Toby Robson to an early 2-0 lead then held off Wren 9-4. Ellis and Tyler Romanik provided the power, with Ellis delivering a 2-out 2-run homer in the bottom of the fifth and Romanik a 2-out 3-run dinger in the bottom of the sixth. Ellis’s shot was his second round-tripper of the tourney. Tripper Ergle was the fireman out of the pen, coming on in the sixth with the bases loaded to dowse a Wren rally.

On a damp and cloudy Friday, the Bengals got the final game of the tournament in before the sky opened up with a 5-2 win over River Bluff. Jacob Davis got the start for the Bengals and went five strong innings before Ergle got the call once more. Again coming in with the bags juiced, Ergle shut down the Gators to help preserve the win. Ellis sent his third homer of the tournament over the right-center fence in the second inning, and the Bengals used small-ball to scratch out three more in the frame, adding another in the third.

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