Bengals fight off Foxes’ late charge

Blythewood bats and baserunners were on point in the Bengals’ 11-7

Blythewood’s John Lanier (24) hits the deck to sneak past Reece Cormier’s attempted tag.

victory over Region 5-5A rival Dutch Fork, even if the pitching was not.
“We just tried to score one more run than the other team,” Blythewood head coach Banks Faulkner said. “It’s a great win for us, gets us back up towards the top in the region. And it’s a win against one of the better lineups in the state.”
A six-run first inning gave Blythewood starting pitcher Ben Spittler plenty of room to operate. Spittler gave up four runs on seven hits in five innings of work. He struck out five and walked two.
John Lanier and Daniel Zippel pitched the sixth and seventh innings, respectively. Blythewood (7-5, 4-3) entered the top of the seventh leading 11-4, and Dutch Fork picked up three runs on two hits, two errors, a walk, and two hit batters.
Ty Olenchuk represented the tying run with the bases loaded and two out, but Zippel got him to fly out to Landon Cruz in right field to close out the victory.
“We’ve got a young pitching staff,” Faulkner said. “That kid there at the end (Zippel) is the only guy that has any varsity experience.”
Landon Lucas lit up the scoreboard and the crowd in the bottom of the first.
With Blythewood up 3-0 and Jordan Fleming and Lanier on base, Lucas blasted a strong 2-out line drive straight up the middle. Dutch Fork pitcher Reese Nichols got his glove on it for a split second, but the ball careened into deep right center field and carried to the fence.
Fleming and Lanier came home easily, and when Dutch Fork outfielders couldn’t get the ball back into the infield, Lucas slid into home to complete the inside-the-park home run.
“We talked about trying to throw up a crooked number early,” Faulkner said. “We let our guys settle in, and we kept answering, that’s what was big.”
From that point, the Bengals needed only to play keep-away.
Dutch Fork picked up a run in the second, when Jonathan Thomas hit a two-out, bases-loaded single that drove in Noah Jackson. Spittler got out of that jam when Jordan Beatson grounded into an inning-ending fielder’s choice.
Blythewood got that run back when Zach Bales singled in Lanier with two out. Spittler flied out to retire the side.
The Silver Foxes’ three-run fourth cut Blythewood’s lead to 7-4, but the Bengals responded with two runs in the ninth. Todd Mattox led off the inning with a double and came home on Josh Cowan’s one-out bunt single. Aidan Massey then scored on Lucas’ single to make it 9-4.
The Bengals got two more runs in the sixth for an 11-4 lead going into the final inning.
“I’m just real proud of the kids for finding a way to win,” Faulkner said. “They’d answer and we’d respond. That’s what’s exciting to me about our team. We’re awful young, we’ve got a lot of inexperience, but we’re finding ways to win. There’s still a lot of ways that we can continue to learn and grow from and get better.”
Blythewood played White Knoll Wednesday.

Dutch Fork 010 300 3 – 7 10 3
Blythewood 601 202 x – 11 11 5
WP: Ben Spittler. LP: Reese Nichols.
Hitters: Dutch Fork – Jonathan Thomas 3-4. Crosby Jones 2-3, 2B. Hugh Ryan 2-4, 2B. Blythewood – Todd Mattox 3-3, 2B. Landon Lucas 2-4, HR. Zach Bales 2-4. Josh Cowan 2-3.

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