Bengals sweep Vikings, clinch Region

The Bengals top the region with an 11-1 record. | Martha Ladd

BLYTHEWOOD – Within the first four at-bats of the first game of its Region 4-5A series against Spring Valley Wednesday, Blythewood was up 4-0 thanks to a Jansen Stokes Grand Slam.

The Bengals cruised to a 10-3 victory at Spring Valley that day to clinch their first region championship since 2014, then dominated the Vikings the next day in a doubleheader at Blythewood.

“We’ve played real consistent in the region,” Banks Faulkner said. “We had a 2-1 loss to Lugoff-Elgin where I didn’t think we played bad, they’re a good team. But we’ve been really consistent baseball. We’ve played grown-up. It’s been a lot of fun watching these guys go out and play like they’re capable of playing.”

Blythewood (17-5, 11-1) closed out region play with the series sweep and now looks toward the South Carolina Diamond Invitational, which opens Wednesday at Blythewood.

Blythewood’s 2-day, 3-game totals put an exclamation point at the end of region play. Bengals reached base 60 times over the course of 17 innings and collected 37 runs on 28 hits, including two grand –slam home runs.

In the first game, Spring Valley starting pitcher Reese Lumpkin opened the action by walking Zach Bailes and Landon Lucas. He hit John Lanier to load the bases, and on his 18th pitch of the game served Stokes a high fastball that he drove to straightaway centerfield to put the Bengals up 4-0.

Blythewood never needed to look back. The Bengals picked up two more runs in the second, and one run apiece in the third, fifth, sixth, and seventh innings.

With the region crown in hand, the Bengals played host to the Vikings in a Thursday doubleheader.

Spring Valley, gave up a run in the top of the first inning of game one, but Jonathan Sanders put the Vikings up 4-1 with a grand slam of his own.

Blythewood starting pitcher Landon Lucas shook off that homer and held the Vikings hitless over the next six innings to toss a 1-hitter. Meanwhile, the Bengals offense got cranking for two runs in the second, three in the third, and four in the fourth to go up 10-1.

“It’s good to see Landon,” Faulkner said. “When he starts out, he gives up four runs before he gets an out, but I thought that showed a lot of maturity the way he bounced back from it and had a good outing.”

Lucas himself negated Sanders’ grand slam with one of his own in Blythewood’s 5-run sixth to close out the first game.

“I thought to myself that my team’s gonna back me up,” Lucas said about giving up the grand slam. “We have probably the best offense in the state. I had a bad attitude last year, but I just don’t get mad anymore (under adversity). I just don’t think about it.”

In the nightcap, the Bengals put up three runs in the first before hanging 6 runs in the third inning against a depleted Spring Valley squad. Blythewood’s 3-run fourth closed out the game on the 10-run mercy rule.

Lanier, Lucas, and Davis Wright picked up wins on the mound for the Bengals.

Blythewood 10, Spring Valley 3

BHS – 4-2-1-0-1-1-1 –10,  5, 2

SVHS – 0-1-0-0-0-2-0 –3, 4, 3

WP: John Lanier (6-1)

HITTING: Brady Beasley 3-4, 2B, 2RBI. Jansen Stokes Grand Slam HR, 5RBI (BHS).

Blythewood 15, Spring Valley 4, 6 innings

BHS – 1-2-3-4-0-5 –15, 16, 0

SVHS – 4-0-0-0-0-0 – 4, 1, 0

WP: Landon Lucas (4-0)

HITTING: Landon Lucas 4-4, Grand Slam HR, 5 RBI. Colton Harman 2-3, 2RBI. Brady Beasley 2-3, 2RBI. Josh Cowan 2-4. Janson Stokes 2B (BHS). Jonathan Sanders Grand Slam HR (SVHS).

Blythewood 12, Spring Valley 2, 5 innings

SVHS – 0-0-2-0-0 – 2, 4, 0

BHS – 3-0-6-3-X – 12, 0, 0

WP: Davis Wright (4-0)

HITTING: Nate Hinson 3-3, 2B, 3B, 4 RBI. (BHS)Spring Valley – Khyree Miller 2-3. Carter Daniels, 2B.