Bengals Drop SCDI Opener to ‘Cats

Blythewood catcher Andrew Crook makes a leaping grab of the throw in to the plate as Lexington’s Dalton Lansdowne heads for home. (Photo/Melissa Cooper)

Blythewood catcher Andrew Crook makes a leaping grab of the throw in to the plate as Lexington’s Dalton Lansdowne heads for home. (Photo/Melissa Cooper)

BLYTHEWOOD – Blythewood baseball bats came around against Lexington in the opening round of the S.C. Diamond Invitational Tuesday night. But Wildcats pitcher Cordes Baker ensured that three Bengals extra-base hits and three singles weren’t costly.

Baker went the distance and struck out 12 of the 26 batters he faced as Lexington closed out a 6-2 victory at the Blythewood baseball stadium.

“He’s a good pitcher,” Blythewood head coach Barry Mizzell said. “We had some opportunities and managed to get some guys on, but he made some big pitches when he had to.”

Baker kept the Bengals (8-3) guessing. He struck out the side in the second, and punched out two batters in the first, fourth and fifth innings to keep the game going in the Wildcats’ favor.

“He’s tough,” Lexington head coach Brian Hucks said of the right-handed Baker, a Louisville Slugger High School Pre-Season All-American. “Once he gets that slider going, with the sinker and the sidearm pitches, he’s pretty tough.”

Baker’s effort on the mound paved the way for Lexington (5-6) to start off strong.

“We’ve been struggling all season trying to get the bats going,” Hucks said. “I wanted the guys to go up there and relax a little bit, get the pressure off and see if we could get a couple of hits early in the game.”

Lexington got off to a 2-0 lead after scoring a run on two hits in the first and a run on two hits in the second.

Blythewood picked up a run in the bottom of the third, when Justin Greider singled in Chandler Henderson with two out. Greider could have been the tying run, but he was picked off going for second to cut the rally short.

The Wildcats added two runs in the fourth to make it 4-1. Cole Lemacks smacked a right-field triple to drive in Michael Smoak, who led the inning off getting hit by a pitch. Afer Jared Kirven struck out, Lemacks crossed the plate on Peyton Evans’ ground ball that first basemen Tripper Eargle fielded cleanly but threw it back to second baseman Barrette Grant, who was covering first.

Will Alewine grounded out to Grant to end the fifth, but Lexington took a 6-1 lead after a 2-run sixth.

The bottom half of that inning looked far more promising for the Bengals than just the one run that crossed the plate.

Andrew Crook lined a 1-out double to left and Greider got hit by a pitch to put runners at first and second for Justin Lang-Spittler. Good fortune seemed to come around with Spittler’s bat, as he lined a double to left that scored Crook and put Greider at third with one out.

Unfortunately for Blythewood, Grant hit a bouncer right back to Baker, and Eargle struck out to retire the side, leaving runners at second and third.

Blythewood stranded six baserunners, but two pickoffs — Greider’s in the third and Henderson’s inning-ending pickoff at second base in the fifth inning — cut rallies short.

“We’re struggling offensively,” Mizzell said. “We’ve got a lot of new guys playing and that’s where they’re struggling is the little things. We’ve had some base-running mistakes, and defensively we threw the ball away and gave up a couple of runs. You can’t do that against good teams.”

Blythewood starter Jacob Davis lasted 5 2/3 innings and was on the hook for all six Lexington runs, five of them earned. He struck out five and walked one. Kaazim Dharas came on in relief and pitched the final 1 1/3 innings.

Crook and Henderson each had two hits to lead the Bengals.

LHS: 1-1-0 2-0-2 0 – 6-8-1

BHS: 0-0-1 0-0-1 0 – 2-6-1

B: Jacob Davis (L), Kaazim Dharas (6), and Andrew Crook. L: Cordes Baker (W) and Jared Kirven. 2B: Brice Kirven (2), Peyton Evans, Andrew Cook, Justin Lang-Spittler, Chandler Henderson. 3B: Cole Lemacks. LOB: Lexington 6, Blythewood 4.


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