Bengals Sew Up Region, Home Field

Ryan Malone breaks out of the batter’s box and heads to first. (Photo/Kristy Kimball Massey)

BLYTHEWOOD – The Blythewood Bengals (17-6, 7-3) baseball team won its fourth straight Region IV-4A championship last week with a 3-0 victory over the Blazers of Ridge View on April 25. The win sets the Bengals up to host Laurens in round one of the playoffs Thursday (May 1) at 6:30 p.m.

Sophomore Tony Robson dazzled on the mound as he pitched all seven scoreless innings and scattered seven hits throughout the game. Robson was efficient, throwing 86 pitches, striking out two and walking none. He never faced more than five batters in an inning.

“We got a lead and Toby (Robson) pitched well,” Blythewood head coach Barry Mizzell said after the game. “He spotted his fastball, competed and didn’t walk a soul. We also made some good defensive plays behind him. Good defense and good pitching is a good combination to win a game.”

The Bengal defense sucked up ground balls like a vacuum. Blythewood’s infielders scooped up 13 ground ball outs out of the game’s total 21 outs. Shortstop Walt Ballentine had five assists. Second baseman Barrett Grant accounted for three assists and three putouts, including all three outs in the sixth inning, one of which was a leaping grab to rob Ridge View’s David White of a hit back up the middle.

“Those two guys played great,” Mizzell stated. “Walt (Ballentine) made a couple of great plays along with Barrett (Grant) and Tyler (Romanik) over at third made a couple of really good plays.”

Blythewood scored its three runs off eight hits and two errors.

With two outs in the bottom of the second inning, the Bengals strung together three straight hits. Grant’s double to left-field plated Ryan Malone to start the scoring off.

After the game, Mizzell was pleased with his hitters’ ability to come up with two-out hits.

“The guys down in the order got us a couple hits and got us going,” he said. “That’s what you’re supposed to do with runners in scoring position.”

In the third inning, Romanik led off the inning with a double to right field. Andrew Crook followed that up with a hot-shot single to put runners at first and second with no outs.

Connor Grant and Drew Ellis cashed in with an RBI by hitting a ground ball out to the right side of the infield to plate Romanik and Crook respectively and give the Bengals a 3-0 lead.

That small margin was all Blythewood needed because Robson’s bulldog mentality on the mound along with Blythewood’s spotless defense would win the game down the stretch.

“We talk about it (defense) all the time,” Mizzell noted. “We’ve been solid defensively all year, we really have. We haven’t made many errors and tonight our kids competed hard.”

The win sewed up the number one seed in the region and will give the Bengals home field advantage in the playoffs. For a full bracket visit www.schsl.org.

The victory was especially sweet for Blythewood’s six seniors. Drew Ellis, Ryan Malone, Chase Matthews, Hunter Wooten, Alex Boulware and Dwight Stokes were all recognized by Blythewood’s coaching staff and their parents for Senior Night before the game.

“Those guys have put a lot into this program even though some of them don’t play a lot,” Mizzell stated. “They’re a really big part of our team. They’re great kids and are just as big of a part as the players who do play a lot. They’re a good group that’s been a part of a lot of wins and a lot of region championships.”

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