Bengals Limp to Victory

Jacob Thompson gimps home with what looked like the winning run in the top of the sixth at Spring Valley. Thompson fractured his ankle sliding into third and struggled to the plate when a Viking throw went wild. The umpire, however, had ruled the play dead sending a pinch runner back to third and Thompson to the emergency room. (Photo/Kristy Kimball Massey)

Jacob Thompson gimps home with what looked like the winning run in the top of the sixth at Spring Valley. Thompson fractured his ankle sliding into third and struggled to the plate when a Viking throw went wild. The umpire, however, had ruled the play dead sending a pinch runner back to third and Thompson to the emergency room. (Photo/Kristy Kimball Massey)

Lomas Delivers Game Winner in 18th

COLUMBIA – Blythewood High School, and maybe Spring Valley too, owes Hunter Lomas a round of thanks for ending Tuesday night’s continuing stalemate at the Vikings’ baseball field.

In the top of the 18th inning, Lomas knocked in Barrett Grant with a bloop single to left to score the go-ahead run. Then in the bottom of that frame, the right-hander took to the mound and struck out the side to preserve a 2-1 Bengals victory at the four-hour, 35-minute mark.

“It was crazy,” said Lomas, who pitched eight full innings in relief. “I didn’t have too many good at-bats before that. Once I had that run I felt more confident (on the mound). I knew I had a run and I didn’t want to be the one to lose it.”

Lomas may not have started, but pitched three-hit ball for the Bengals (7-2) over that time, striking out seven and walking two.

No pitcher on either team had a really bad night.

Jacob Davis started the game and gave up a run on six hits before leaving with two outs in the fifth. He walked two and struck out two. Davis made way for Justin Greider, who worked 5 1/3 scoreless innings, giving up two hits and striking out 13.

“He (Lomas) did a great job for us and our other pitchers pitched well for us too,” Bengals head coach Barry Mizzell said. “It was a great night for pitching, but we struggled offensively. We hit some hard ones but we were just hitting them right at people.”

Spring Valley starter Griffin Hollifield pitched 4 1/3 innings, giving up a run on four hits. Tyler Baker came on from his starting position at shortstop and then threw 7 2/3 innings of four-hit ball.

When Baker was done, Josh James came on to start the 13th inning. He gave up four hits and the game-winning run.

Spring Valley went up 1-0 in the third inning when Baker scored on Ethan Jedziniak’s infield sacrifice. Blythewood evened the score in the fifth inning when Jordan Adams reached on an error that also scored Todd Mattox.

The Bengals looked to have a 2-1 lead in the sixth on a grisly base running play. Pinch-hitter Jacob Thompson, who was hit by a pitch, moved to second on Tripper Eargle’s sacrifice bunt. Thompson started for third as Baker pitched to Mattox, and slid safely underneath Spring Valley catcher Ethen Jedziniak’s throw.

Jedziniak’s throw was wild though, and Baker got up to try for home. When he did, he stumbled on his right ankle and fell on the base path. Even so, Baker got up and hopped across the plate with his weight off his noticeably broken right ankle to score Blythewood’s second run.

Or so thought the anxious Bengal fans.

Unfortunately for the Bengals, Johnson’s incredible effort did not count. The umpire crew ultimately ruled the play dead once Johnson collapsed on the base paths.

“I’ve never heard that in my life,” Mizzell said. “When he got halfway home, the (plate) umpire declared the play dead because he was hurt. He declared the runner scored, but then the other guy (the base umpire) said the baserunner had to go to his previous base and said it was a safety issue.”

Nevertheless, when Johnson hopped on home plate, he collapsed in pain. Play was stopped for about 10 minutes as Spring Valley trainers and staff helped stabilize Johnson’s broken ankle. He was carried off the field with much applause.

When play resumed, the score stayed 1-1 for the next 13 innings as both sides battled to a scoreless draw.

It wasn’t for lack of trying

From the sixth inning until the end of the game, both teams combined to strand 23 baserunners.

On six occasions, a team had a runner on third, but left him there every time. Scoring opportunities were blunted mostly by strikeouts, but the Bengals and Vikings turned two inning-ending double plays in their defensive efforts to turn the momentum.

“I thought we played really, really good defense throughout the game, but we were really struggling offensively,” Mizzell said. “We missed opportunities to execute or didn’t execute, we missed a safety squeeze, overran a base, a lot of things.”

BHS: 0-0-0 0-1-0 0-0-0 0-0-0 0-0-0 0-0-1 – 2-10-2

SV: 0-0-1 0-0-0 0-0-0 0-0-0 0-0-0 0-0-0 – 1-11-6

B: Jacob Davis, Justin Greider (5), Hunter Lomas (11, W), and Andrew Crook. S: Griffin Hollifield, Tyler Baker (5), Josh James (13,L) and Ethan Jedziniak. 2B: Barrett Grant (B), Baker (S).