Bengals notch 8th win in a row, launch initiative

Michael Gregory (12) beats the throw to the bag. | Ross Burton

BLYTHEWOOD – High school sports draw some of the most passionate and dedicated fan bases in the country, but all too often that passion can breakdown into distasteful and distracting rants against those tasked with officiating the contest. That ire has depleted the pool of willing referees, but the Blythewood athletic department is taking steps to make the game more enjoyable to fans, referees and student-athletes alike.

Blythewood’s athletic department has developed an Athletic Parent Council. Ben Ehrlich, a Sports Psychology teacher and mental performance coach, was named chair of the council to address such issues from each sport, and one of the council’s first actions was the roll out ‘The Game Belongs to Them’ initiative.

The campaign began ahead of Blythewood’s matchup with Sumter on Mar.27, and t-shirts were sold for $10 apiece. Those who bought shirts were admitted to the game free of charge. The council also made a pledge to create a positive competitive atmosphere.

“We believe the student-athlete experience should be all about them,” said BHS Athletic Director Barry Mizzell, “and we want to do whatever we can to create an environment that allows them to compete and enjoy.”

There was also baseball to be played that day, and the Bengals came out victorious in a 2-0 pitcher’s dual with Sumter. The Bengals had solid work from three arms. Davis Wright got the start and the win. He pitched four strong innings, gave up one hit and struck out one against 12 batters while keeping Sumter scoreless.

Alex Canino tossed an inning in the setup spot and did not allow a hit. He retired the inning in 19 pitches. Josh Cowan pitched the final two innings and got the save.

Landon Lucas went 2-4 on the night with a double. Jansen Stokes went 1-2 with a sacrifice fly and picked up both RBIs for the Bengals.

The Bengals carried the momentum into their contest against Mauldin on Saturday. John Lanier had two hits, including a double, and three RBIS in the team’s 10-5 win over the Mavericks. Zach Bailes and Josh Cowan also each knocked a double and two RBIs. Lucas batted 2-3 with two walks, a triple, a homerun and an RBI. Nate Hinson and Landon Stokes each knocked in a run. Alex Canino got the win on the mound in four innings pitched, allowing 4 hits and 4 runs with one strikeout.

The Bengals rested only a day before facing Lugoff-Elgin on Monday. Blythewood pushed the win streak to 8 after they knocked off the Demons in a tight 6-4 contest.

Lucas knocked a two-run homer. Lanier also had two RBIS and Cowan one. Lucas pitched six innings and earned the win. Lucas struck out four of the 16 batters faced and allowed four hits and four runs. Cowan came on for the last inning and the save.

The Bengals faced Lugoff-Elgin for the second of their three-game series on Wednesday, but scores were not available at press time. They will host the Demons for game three on Friday at 6:30.

To make Blythewood High School sports a more positive experience for all involved, especially the athletes, BHS Athletic Director Barry Mizzell and Principal Matt Sherman organized The Game Belongs to Them (TGBTT) campaign. To kick off the campaign, the BHS staff, students and parents celebrated TGBTT during the six games that took place on the BHS campus March 27. Fans and families purchased TGBTT t-shirts for $10 and wore them to the game. For more information about the campaign, call Mizzell or Sherman at 691-4090.