Bengals Edge Laurens in Game 1

BLYTHEWOOD – Blythewood barely got the ball out of the infield in the opening game of the 4A District II Tournament Thursday, but it made the hits count.

The top-seeded Bengals needed only four hits on top of Toby Robson’s and Drew Ellis’s pitching performances to outlast No.4 seed Laurens 4-3 at the Blythewood baseball stadium.

The Bengals (18-6) move on to face No.2 seed Fort Mill today (May 2) at Blythewood Stadium. The Yellow Jackets defeated Gaffney in their first-round game Thursday.

The Raiders (13-9) travel to Gaffney to play the Indians in the losers bracket game.

“We got a couple big hits early that gave us a little cushion and Toby pitched well,” Blythewood head coach Barry Mizzell said. “He threw strikes and kept us in the game.”

Robson worked five innings on the mound for the Bengals, giving up two runs on five hits and walking one. Ellis, who came on to start the sixth inning, gave up a run on three hits, walking one.

Smiley pitched a complete game for the Raiders, giving up four hits, striking out two and walking two.

Blythewood held a 3-0 lead after three innings, picking up a run in the second and two more in the third.

Justin Lang-Spittler’s 2-out single in the second inning scored Walt Ballentine, who had reached on an infield error and moved to second on a wild pitch to Spittler. Andrew Crook flied out to right field to close out the inning.

In the third, Connor Grant chopped hard at a low pitch and sent it bounding over Laurens third baseman Thomas Jones’ head and into left field. That 1-out single brought in Jacob Davis, who led off the frame with a walk, and Dwight Stokes, the courtesy runner for Crook, who singled.

Ellis struck out and Ballentine flied out to right field to end the inning.

Laurens picked up two runs in the top of the fifth to cut Blythewood’s lead to 3-2.

With one out and two on, Cody Smiley slapped a chop single that soared over Ellis at first and fell well into right field. That hit scored Toby Jackson, who drew a walk to get on base.

Hammer Walker then made a solid sacrifice bunt far enough down the first base line to score B.J. Taylor from third. Thomas Jones singled to put runners at the corners for Grayson Bailes, but Bailes hit into a 4-6 fielder’s choice to retire the side.

Blythewood made it 4-2 when Laurens intentionally walked Ellis to load the bases, then accidentally walked Ballentine for the insurance run with two out. Ryan Malone bounced out in the infield to close out the frame.

Laurens got another run in the top of the sixth, when Walker came home on a two-out wild pitch. With the Raiders trailing 4-3 with two out, Jackson and Walker mashed out back-to-back singles. Laurens couldn’t bring the go-ahead runs across though, as Ballentine swiped up Smiley’s ground ball to short and stepped on second for the third out.

That was the last big inning for either team. After a 1-2-3 sixth inning for the Bengals, Ellis and the Blythewood defense made quick work of the Raiders in the top of the seventh.

“It’s playoff baseball and we found a way to win it,” Mizzell said.

Connor Grant went 2-for-3 for the Bengals. Jones and Taylor both had two hits to lead the Raiders.


Laurens 000 021 0 – 3 8 1

Blythewood 012 010 X – 4 4 2


B: Robson (W), Ellis (6-S) and Crook. L: Smiley (L) and Paxton. LOB: B-5, L-7.

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