White Knoll ends Bengals’ baseball season

Aiden Massey catches the ball before it can make its way across the plate. Photo/ Kristy Massey

BLYTHEWOOD – One day after falling 1-0 to top-seed Sumter in the opening round of the 5A-District VII tournament, the Bengals traveled across town to White Knoll Thursday night, where the Timberwolves won 4-1 to oust Blythewood from the double-elimination postseason bracket.

“I told this team we’ve got as much heart as any team I’ve had,” Blythewood head coach Banks Faulkner said. “We’re going to get on the right side of this thing. I told our seniors that they did a great job of laying a foundation for the future.”

White Knoll starting pitcher Jacob Jeffcoat pitched a complete-game 3-hitter, striking out three. Jeffcoat’s biggest downsides on the night were issuing three walks and hitting four batters.

“He had three pitches working, but not to take anything away from them, they’re a great team, but he was his own enemy,” White Knoll head coach Charles Assey said. “It’s not about the base hit Flemming got (that scored

Blythewood’s only run), it was what happened in front of it.”
The Timberwolves (15-10) will play Summerville Saturday.
Blythewood finishes the season 15-11.

“I tip my hat to coach Assey and White Knoll, he’s one of the best,” Faulkner said. “I’ve known him since we were little and I have a great deal of respect for him and his team, but for whatever reason, we just don’t play well against these guys.”

White Knoll got all the offense it needed for the win with a few plays in the first two innings. The Timberwolves took a 1-0 lead when Parker Wieder singled, Clayton Lindsey doubled, and Jacob Horton walked to load the bases with one out. Pierceson Nance hit a hard bouncer down the first base line. Before the Blythewood infield could make a play, Wieder came home safely and Nance reached base.

In the second inning with one on and one out, Ryan Hardin reached on an error that scored Matthew Ditch from second to make it 2-0. Hardin himself scored when Wieder grounded to Ben Lang-Spittler at second. Lang-Spittler got Wieder out at first, and first baseman Aiden Massey fired to catcher Josh Cowan, but Hardin beat the throw to the plate.

All three runs were charged to Bengals starter Daniel Zippel. Zippel only worked 1 1/3 of an inning before Landon Lucas came on in relief.

Lucas stayed on for 4 2/.3 innings, giving up a run on three hits, striking out two and hitting one.
Blythewood’s only hurrah came in the fourth with two out. Jeffcoat hit Landon Cruz, walked John Lanier and hit Brady Beasley to load the bases.

Jordan Flemming, the only Bengal with two hits on the night, ripped a single into short left that scored Cruz.
Lanier rounded third on the play, but inexplicably held up and didn’t score. Todd Mattox slapped a grounder to third to end the inning.

“We just don’t do enough good baseball things,” Faulkner said. “It’s not our heart or toughness. We didn’t get a big hit with runners in scoring position, we get a baserunning error where I don’t know what was going on there. The game just sort of figures itself out.”

The game Thursday night pivoted on that inning, and figured itself out in favor of the Timberwolves. White Knoll added a run in the bottom of the fourth to end the inning, while the Bengals couldn’t get any other runs across.

Blythewood loses eight seniors, but Faulkner says they’ll be in a better position to fight out of the middle of Region V-5A—as long as the returners put in the work and leaders can emerge.

“We’re really young. We’re gonna bring a lot of guys back,” he said. “We’ve gotta find some leaders. We had some really outstanding seniors who did a great job of providing leadership to our young kids. We’ll miss them, and we’ll take a week off to reflect. And then we’ll get back to work.”

Blythewood 000 100 0 – 1 3 1
White Knoll 120 100 x – 4 6 1
WP: Jacob Jeffcoat. LP: Daniel Zippel.
Hitters: Blythewood – Jordan Flemming 2-3. White Knoll – Clayton Lindsey 2-3, 2B. Ryan Harbin 2B.

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